Fear of storms and hurricanes in Antillean and Belgian Children

P.E.H.M. Muris, C.M.G. Meesters, H.L.G.J. Merckelbach, P.M. Verschuren, E. Geebelen, E. Aleva

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Abstract

The present study assessed fear of hurricanes in children who had been confronted with this natural event (i.e., Antillean children, n=161). Their fear levels were compared to those of children who are unfamiliar with such an event (i.e., Belgian children, n=185). Antillean children reported significantly higher levels of fear of storms than Belgian children did, thus providing support for the notion that exposure to dangerous events promotes children's fears of those events. Surprisingly, however, Antillean children had lower scores on the 'Hurricanes' item than Belgian children. Plausibly, differences in how children interpreted this item may have accounted for this unexpected finding. That is, ratings of Antillean children were probably based on actual experiences with hurricanes, whereas scores of Belgian children presumably reflected appraisal of threat in case they would be confronted with such an event. Implications of this finding for the assessment of childhood fears are briefly discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-469
Number of pages11
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Volume40
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002

Cite this

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Fear of storms and hurricanes in Antillean and Belgian Children. / Muris, P.E.H.M.; Meesters, C.M.G.; Merckelbach, H.L.G.J.; Verschuren, P.M.; Geebelen, E.; Aleva, E.

In: Behaviour Research and Therapy, Vol. 40, No. 4, 01.01.2002, p. 459-469.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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AU - Muris, P.E.H.M.

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AU - Aleva, E.

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AB - The present study assessed fear of hurricanes in children who had been confronted with this natural event (i.e., Antillean children, n=161). Their fear levels were compared to those of children who are unfamiliar with such an event (i.e., Belgian children, n=185). Antillean children reported significantly higher levels of fear of storms than Belgian children did, thus providing support for the notion that exposure to dangerous events promotes children's fears of those events. Surprisingly, however, Antillean children had lower scores on the 'Hurricanes' item than Belgian children. Plausibly, differences in how children interpreted this item may have accounted for this unexpected finding. That is, ratings of Antillean children were probably based on actual experiences with hurricanes, whereas scores of Belgian children presumably reflected appraisal of threat in case they would be confronted with such an event. Implications of this finding for the assessment of childhood fears are briefly discussed.

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