Threat perception abnormalities in adolescents with psychopathology

Searle, Ernestina (2012). Threat perception abnormalities in adolescents with psychopathology Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Searle, Ernestina
Thesis Title Threat perception abnormalities in adolescents with psychopathology
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2012-10-10
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Julie Henry
Total pages 123
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Threat perception refers to the ability to detect, interpret and respond to potential sources of danger in social interactions and different environmental contexts. Aberrant threat perception is linked to paranoia, anxiety and other mental health problems and has been suggested to possibly represent a core, transdiagnostic symptom integral to all psychopathology. Most studies have examined abnormal attention to threat-relevant stimuli, with minimal research examining whether threat interpretations are also affected. The limited threat interpretation research has primarily used ambiguous stimuli, with minimal investigation of how stimuli which are unambiguously low or high threat are interpreted. The current study investigated threat interpretations by examining clinical and non-clinical participants’ danger ratings of stimuli (pictures of faces and situations) normatively considered either low or high threat. The clinical group consisted of adolescent inpatients with a broad range of psychiatric diagnoses. Demographically matched community volunteers comprised the control group. The results revealed no between-group differences in threat ratings of faces or situations. Both groups of participants were, however, able to discriminate between low and high threat stimuli. Finally, there were within-group effects whereby higher threat ratings were associated with poorer mental health in both groups. These data indicate that although abnormal threat perception did not appear to represent a transdiagnostic symptom of the clinical group’s psychopathology, it is related to poorer mental health in both clinical and non-clinical adolescent cohorts. Further research is required to determine whether threat interpretation abnormalities identified in other samples are specific to ambiguous stimuli or whether the absence of such abnormalities in the current sample reflect specific limitations of the stimuli, which were designed for adults.
Keyword Threat perception abnormalities

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Created: Fri, 08 Mar 2013, 10:00:46 EST by Mrs Ann Lee on behalf of School of Psychology