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Reward dominance: Associations with anxiety, conduct problems, and psychopathy in children

Abstract

The associations between children's behavior and their performance on a task with a steadily increasing ratio of punished to rewarded responses was investigated in a group of clinic-referred (n= 92) and normal control (n= 40) children between the ages of 6 and 13. Clinic-referred children with an anxiety disorder played significantly fewer trials than clinic-referred children without an anxiety disorder but the response style of the anxious children did not differ from that of a normal control group. Children with severe conduct problems who had no anxiety disorder played more trials than (a) children with severe conduct problems and a comorbid anxiety disorder, (b) nonanxious children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and (c) children in the normal control group. The strongest evidence for the reward dominant response style was for nonanxious subjects with elevations on a measure of psychopathic features, irrespective of whether they also had conduct problems and irrespective of whether they were clinic-referred.

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Correspondence to Paul J. Frick.

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We would like to thank the staff of the Alabama School-Aged Assessment Service and the Tuscaloosa County School System for their help in data collection. We would like to especially acknowledge the help of John Gurley in data collection.

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O'Brien, B.S., Frick, P.J. Reward dominance: Associations with anxiety, conduct problems, and psychopathy in children. J Abnorm Child Psychol 24, 223–240 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01441486

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Keywords

  • Conduct Problem
  • Strong Evidence
  • Normal Control
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Normal Control Group