What is the Revised Fear Survey Schedule for Children measuring?

P.E.H.M. Muris*, H.L.G.J. Merckelbach, T.H. Ollendick, N.J. King, C.M.G. Meesters, C van Kessel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Web of Science)
397 Downloads (Pure)


The Fear Survey Schedule for Children-Revised (FSSC-R) is a widely used self-report questionnaire that purports to measure the number of fears and the overall level of fearfulness in children. A number of studies have shown that the ten most common childhood fears can be found on the Danger and Death subscale of the FSSC-R, with upwards of 50% of children endorsing such fears. However, some researchers (e.g., H. McCathie & S.H. Spence, 1991; Behaviour Research and Therapy, 29, 495-502) have questioned the validity of these findings, suggesting that these items do not reflect actual childhood fears that children have or experience on a daily or regular basis. Rather, they suggest that children are responding to these fear items as if they were actually occuring to them in the here and now. The current study examined the occurrence of five Danger and Death fears from the FSSC-R (i.e., "Not being able to breathe", "Being hit by a car or truck", "Falling from high places", "Bombing attacks or being invaded", and "Fire or getting burned") in a sample of normal school children aged eight to 12 years (N=102). More specifically, we used three different methods to asses these fears: (1) prevalence as determined by the standard FSSC-R procedure, (2) prevalence as determined by a fear list procedure, and (3) actual occurrence or prevalence of these fears in the past week, as determined by a diary method. Results indicated that while these fears ranked high when using the standard FSSC-R procedure, they were considerably less common when using the fear list procedure, and had a low probability of actual occurrence on a daily basis, as well as possessing a short duration and low intensity. Implications for the assessment of fears and the use of self-report measures like the FSSC-R are briefly discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1317-1326
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002

Cite this