Hassanali, N., Ruffell, T., Browning, S., Bracegirdle, K., Ames, C., Corrigall, R., Laurens, K. R, Hirsch, C., Kuipers, E., Maddox, L. & Jolley, S. (2015). Cognitive bias and unusual experiences in childhood. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,24(8), 949-957. Germany: Springer Verlag. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-014-0644-6
Cognitive therapy is recommended for children with psychotic-like, or unusual, experiences associated with distress or impairment (UEDs; UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 2013 ). Accurate models of the psychological underpinnings of childhood UEDs are required to effectively target therapies. Cognitive biases, such as the jumping to conclusions data-gathering bias (JTC), are implicated in the development and maintenance of psychosis in adults. In this study, we aimed to establish the suitability for children of a task developed to assess JTC in adults. Eighty-six participants (aged 5–14 years) were recruited from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and community (school) settings, and completed the probabilistic reasoning (‘Beads’) task, alongside measures of intellectual functioning, general psychopathology, and UEDs. Self-reported reasoning strategy was coded as ‘probabilistic’ or ‘other’. Younger children (5–10 years) were more likely than older children (11–14 years) to JTC (OR = 2.7, 95 % CI = 1.1–6.5, p = 0.03); and to use non-probabilistic reasoning strategies (OR = 9.4, 95 % CI = 1.7–48.8, p = 0.008). Both UED presence (OR = 5.1, 95 % CI = 1.2–21.9, p = 0.03) and lower IQ (OR = 0.9, 95 % CI = 0.9–1.0, p = 0.02) were significantly and independently associated with JTC, irrespective of age and task comprehension. Findings replicate research in adults, indicating that the ‘Beads’ task can be reliably employed in children to assess cognitive biases. Psychological treatments for children with distressing unusual experiences might usefully incorporate reasoning interventions.
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