Background—Attention bias towards threat is associated with anxiety in older youth and adults and has been linked with violence exposure. Attention bias may moderate the relationship between violence exposure and anxiety in young children. Capitalizing on measurement advances, the current study examines these relationships at a younger age than previously possible. Methods—Young children (mean age 4.7, ±0.8) from a cross-sectional sample oversampled for violence exposure (N = 218) completed the dot-probe task to assess their attention biases. Observed fear/anxiety was characterized with a novel observational paradigm, the Anxiety Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Mother-reported symptoms were assessed with the Preschool-Age Psychiatric Assessment and Trauma Symptom Checklist for Young Children. Violence exposure was characterized with dimensional scores reflecting probability of membership in two classes derived via latent class analysis from the Conflict Tactics Scales: Abuse and Harsh Parenting. Results—Family violence predicted greater child anxiety and trauma symptoms. Attention bias moderated the relationship between violence and anxiety.

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Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry



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© 2015 Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.


This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: Briggs-Gowan, M. J., Pollack, S., Grasso, D., Voss, J., Mian, N. D., Wakschlag, L. S., & Pine, D. (2015). Attention bias and anxiety in young children exposed to family violence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56(11), 1194-1201, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.