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    Critical Thinking: Fear and Anxiety 

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    Fear and Anxiety can have a great influence on the development on children and adolescents, according to Muris(2007), which he reviewed in, “Normal and Abnormal Fear and Anxiety in Children and Adolescents.” The topic of the influential value of fear and anxiety have been tossed about for decades. It used to be thought that these symptoms dissipate before adulthood. Recent studies involving Muris, Merckelbach, Gadget, and Moulaert have shown the developmental pattern is influenced in children/adolescents affecting their adulthood. Muris had completed multiple studies on the subject, but came down to a general idea of the division of fear and anxiety is empirically justifiable.

    Purpose and Hypothesis

    Muris worked to challenge the studies of Craske before him, that stated fear and anxiety would dissipate before the child or adolescent reached adulthood. He proved multiple times that fear and anxiety have an influence on the development of children and adolescents. The studies showed that the fear of things, such as scary dreams, occur more in smaller children, but as they grew into adolescence, the fear turned more into worry, such as stressing about school performance or meeting parents standard. (Muris, Merckelbach, Gadet, and Moulaert, 2000)


    Researchers used many different methods to observe the developmental patterns in children and adolescents. For example, some would use parent-report questionnaires, others would conduct interviews. Anxious children and adolescents can be identified as two different factors; One factor is fear, and the other factor is anxiety. Muris, Schmidt, Merckelbach, and Schouten(2001b) conducted a factor analytic study that exhibited a division between the two factors empirically justifiable.


    Bauer(1976) conducted a study that demonstrated smaller children feared things such as ghosts and monsters, whereas older children and adolescents feared physical danger. Previous studies have resulted that symptoms of social phobia including generalized anxiety had the most occurrence in older children and adolescents. Further studies have proven that fears of such things lead to a bigger psychological phenomenon. A more recent study conducted by Muris, Merckelbach, Gadet, and Moulaert(2000) resulted with comparable data collected by Bauer(1976). The results stated that different types of fears had some developmental patterns surface. For instance, the older the child got his/her fear would change from ghosts and monsters to worry about school performance and doubt about meeting certain standards. Another recent study conducted by Weems and Costa(2005) researched the developmental differences when expressing it through anxiety symptoms. Using the child- and parent- report questionnaires, they assessed multiple symptoms of social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, and separation anxiety disorder. They had similar results obtained by Muris, Merckelbach, Gadet, and Moulaert in 2000. Although it had been accepted that the developmental pattern of fear and anxiety reflects on life’s everyday experiences, it was acknowledged that direct empirical evidence was extremely rare for the idea. Except for one study that studied the connection between cognitive development and worry/doubt. The results came to show that with increased age of someone that experiences symptoms of fear and anxiety, cognitive development can direct that person to have an enhanced worry elaboration(Muris, Merckelbach, Meesters, and Van den Brand, 2002).

    Discussion and Conclusions

    “If it is true that fear and anxiety in youths are intimately linked to development, one would expect to find a clear developmental pattern in the manifestation of these negative emotions”(Muris, 2007; p. 6). All studies have shown that fear and anxiety have a phenomenon that has been termed “the ontogenetic parade” (Marks, 1987) and cognitive capacities are an important determinate. Some fears push cognitive development further along and other fears hold certain stages of cognitive development behind. The changes between this can cause more enhancement of features of anxiety. If one is to take on both fear and anxiety at once starting at a young age then they are confronted with various developmental issues. Before reaching a certain level of cognitive maturation, worry becomes more and more manifested in the middle of one’s childhood. (Muris 2007) Studies afterward demonstrated that some symptoms of fear and anxiety can become severe in some cases, depending on past experiences and thought process.

    In conclusion of the first few chapters of “Normal and Abnormal Fear and Anxiety in Children and Adolescents,” a lot of researchers made headway on original theories about fear and anxiety. It used to be thought that fear and anxiety were learned and that the symptoms would dissipate after a certain period of time. As time went on different researchers went further into research, learning the influential value of fear and anxiety on children’s developmental process, which affects their adulthood. It was observed by multiple researchers that fear and anxiety in children and adolescents have a great effect on their cognitive development. Fear and anxiety can also be observed in many different severities depending on different life experiences. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common forms of psychopathology among children and adolescents. There is evidence that shows a big portion of anxiety disorders have a persistent course lasts up into adulthood.

    Impression and Opinion

    My impression of the first few chapters of “Normal and Abnormal Fear and Anxiety in Children and Adolescents” is very relatable and enjoyable. Throughout the first few chapters, I gained more knowledge about the developmental patterns and structures that occur when fear and anxiety lead into adulthood. It certainly allows you to view things from a different perspective and gives plenty of relatable topics to research yourself. Overall it was an outstanding reading that was very impressionable and you are able to reflect on multiple aspects of the reading.


    1. Muris, P. (2007). Normal and Abnormal Fear and Anxiety in Children and Adolescents. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.

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    Critical Thinking: Fear and Anxiety . (2021, Jul 29). Retrieved from

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