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The aim of this introductory paper, and of this special issue of Cognition and Emotion, is to stimulate debate about theoretical issues that will inform child anxiety research in the coming years. Papers included in this special issue have arisen from an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC, UK) funded seminar series, which we called Child Anxiety Theory and Treatment (CATTS). We begin with an overview of the CATTS project before discussing (1) the application of adult models of anxiety to children, and (2) the role of parents in child anxiety. We explore the utility of adult models of anxiety for child populations before discussing the problems that are associated with employing them uncritically in this context. The study of anxiety in children provides the opportunity to observe the trajectory of anxiety and to identify variables that causally influence its development. Parental influences are of particular interest and new and imaginative strategies are required to isolate the complex network of causal relationships therein. We conclude by suggesting that research into the causes and developmental course of anxiety in children should be developed further. We also propose that, although much is known about the role of parents in the development of anxiety, it would be useful for research in this area to move towards an examination of the specific processes involved. We hope that these views represent a constructive agenda for people in the field to consider when planning future research.

Original publication




Journal article


Cognition and Emotion

Publication Date





385 - 394