The Relationship Between Parental Perceptions of Child Vulnerability and Child Anxiety





Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in General Psychology (MAGP)



First Advisor

Dr. Brian Fisak

Second Advisor

Dr. Randall Russac


Research has demonstrated the importance of family history, environment, and parent behaviors in the development of child anxiety disorders. It does not appear, however, that researchers have considered many cognitive risk factors in relation to child anxiety. The goal of this study was to examine the relationship between a cognitive risk variable (i.e. parental perceptions of child vulnerability) and child anxiety disorders. This study also examined the relationship between two common parent behaviors (i.e. overprotection and modeling of anxiety) and child anxiety. Significant relationships between parental perceptions of child vulnerability and parent and child anxiety were found. Parental perception of child vulnerability was found to partially mediate the relationship between parent and child anxiety. In addition, the relationship between overprotection and parental perception of child vulnerability was also found to be significant. Lastly, parental perception of child vulnerability was not found to be significantly related to modeling of anxiety. These findings lend promise to the possibility of modifying parents’ perceptions of child vulnerability as a way to modify their children’s psychological functioning.

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