An observational approach to the assessment of anxiety in young children

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Abstract

Clinical research on anxiety has often relied on assessment techniques that may be inappropriate with young children (e.g., self-report inventories). The present article describes a scale using observational methodology. To assess the reliability and validity of this instrument, the Preschool Observational Scale of Anxiety (POSA), 36 2.6-4.11 yr old preschoolers were observed and scored on the scale during 2 test sessions. Session 1, with mothers absent, was expected to provoke minimal anxiety. Total POSA scores assigned by 2 independent judges correlated .78, with highly significant interjudge correlations for most of the scale items. It was found that (a) POSA scores were significantly correlated with teachers' (Teachers' Separation Anxiety Scale) and parents' (Parent Anxiety Rating Scale) inventory ratings of children's anxiety, and (b) children's POSA scores were significantly higher in Session 1 than Session 2. The findings suggest that the POSA may provide a means of assessing situationally induced anxiety in children who are too young to accurately report their internal states. (38 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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