Fear-related confirmation bias in children: a comparison between neutral- and dangerous-looking animals

P. Dibbets*, L. Fliek, C. Meesters

*Corresponding author for this work

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The purpose of this study was to examine confirmation bias in children without explicitly inducing fear. Eighty non-clinical children (7-13 years) were shown pictures of a neutral animal (quokka) and two dangerous-looking animals (aye aye and possum). For each animal, levels of perceived fear, threat and request for additional threatening or non-threatening information were obtained. A behavioral approach test (BAT) was included as behavioral measure of fear. The results indicated that the aye aye and possum were rated as more threatening and fearful than the quokka. For the aye aye and possum higher fear levels coincided with search for more threatening than non-threatening information. This pattern was absent in non-fearful children and for the non-threatening quokka. During the BAT the quokka was more often approached first compared to the aye aye and possum. Our findings suggest that confirmation bias in children can be observed without using verbal fear induction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-425
Number of pages8
JournalChild Psychiatry & Human Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Children
  • Confirmation bias
  • Danger
  • Fear
  • Threat

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