Category: Child / Adolescent - Anxiety
The purpose of the study was to investigate associations between personality traits and anxiety pathology in children. The sample included forty school-aged children (M = 9.9 yrs, SD = 1.8 yrs) diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and forty neurotypical children (M = 10.3 yrs, SD = 2.0 yrs). The sample was matched in at least two of three criteria: gender, mental age, and ethnicity. Child participants provided a self-report of personality through the Big Five Questionnaire-Children (BFQ-C) which assesses the basic personality dimensions of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness in youths. Paper-pencil parent report questionnaires were collected to assess parent report of child personality and anxiety symptomatology in child participants. Parents reported their child’s personality through the hierarchical personality inventory for children (HiPic) which measures 18 personality facets grouped in five dimensions, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness, and emotional stability. The CASI-4R is a behavior rating scale for DSM-IV-defined emotional and behavioral disorders that yields a symptom severity score. The generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia and separation anxiety scales were used in this study. An independent samples t-test was performed to compare the child anxiety symptomatology reported by parents. Results indicated that the neurotypical sample exhibited significantly fewer symptoms than the ASD sample across generalized, social, and separation anxieties. Correlations were performed between the two personality measures and anxiety scales. Results indicated a greater number of significant negative correlations in the ASD parent group. High anxiety was associated with lower scores on adaptive personality traits. Two additional independent-sample t-tests were performed to compare parent reports of child personality and child-self report of personality between the two groups. Both parents and children rated the neurotypical group significantly more extroverted, agreeable, conscientious, open, and emotionally stable. Our results provide support to literature that associates the presence of personality traits and the occurrence of anxiety disorders. Furthermore, these results indicate a strong association between psychopathology and less favorable personality perception in children. Future studies should investigate factors that mediate or moderate these relationships. Understanding the connection between personality dimensions and anxiety disorders may advance knowledge of etiology and development of these conditions.