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Behavioral inhibition is the relationship between the tendency to experience distress, and the level of withdrawal from unfamiliar situations, people, or environments (Fox et al., 2004). The Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS) measures one of the underlying systems of behavior. The goal is to gauge one’s reactions to aversive motive, or the movement away from something unpleasant. Previous studies have examined the relationship between inhibition levels and anxiety or nervousness. Results have shown that adults who suffer from higher levels of anxiety or nervousness as measured by self-reports of nervousness (Carver et al., 1994) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) (Newman et al., 1997) also report higher scores on the BIS. In the current study, juvenile twins aged 9-13 were asked to complete a variety of self-report surveys about their personality, interests, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. At this time they completed the Screen for Childhood Anxiety Related Disorders (SCARED), which assesses various anxiety-related cognitions, emotions, and behaviors. They also completed the Behavioral Inhibition System/Behavioral Activation System (BIS/BAS) questionnaire, which measures behaviors/thoughts away from something unpleasant (inhibition) and behaviors/thoughts toward something desired (activation)(Carver et al., 1994). We will examine the relationship between scores on the SCARED and on the BIS portion of the BIS/BAS measure. We hypothesize that higher levels of anxiety or nervousness on the SCARED will positively correlate with higher scores on the BIS. This implies that children who have higher levels of inhibition are like to be more anxious overall. This has implications for further adjusting treatment and education when interacting with children who have higher levels of anxiety and inhibition, as opposed to those with lower levels of anxiety and inhibition.

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Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Shannon Hahn

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dever Carney

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

John Hettema

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Roxann Roberson-Nay


Virginia Commonwealth University. Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program

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Behavioral Inhibition and Anxiety