Toronto Metropolitan University
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Anxiety and Reassurance Seeking Behaviour in Children

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posted on 2024-02-13, 18:11 authored by Erin Orr

The purpose of the current work was to explore excessive reassurance seeking (ERS), a behaviour that has been largely understudied in children, as it relates to anxiety. In Study 1, a questionnaire that comprehensively assesses ERS in children with anxiety was developed and validated. This new questionnaire fills an important gap in the literature, as existing ERS measures for children are limited to a single type of ERS behaviour, despite research showing that other types of ERS are common and appear to be more closely associated with anxiety. In Study 2, the relationship between ERS behaviour and executive functioning was examined. A total of 122 children ages 8 to 15 and their parents participated in this study and completed measures assessing psychosocial and behavioural functioning, as well as executive functioning skills. Findings revealed that the new ERS questionnaire possesses good internal consistency and convergent validity with measures of anxiety. An Unweighted Least Squares estimation suggested two underlying factors: (1) ERS in response to general concerns about safety, and (2) ERS in response to concerns about performance and social perceptions. Specific anxiety symptoms were found to be differentially associated with each of these two factors. With regards to ERS and executive functioning, both parent and child-reported ERS were related to difficulties with cognitive shifting. The relationship between ERS and the other executive functioning variables assessed was inconsistent. Together, this research provides new insights into the association of ERS with different anxiety symptoms and executive functions, and a validated questionnaire that will support future research and enhance assessment and treatment planning for children with ERS.





  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Psychology

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • Dissertation

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Tisha Ornstein



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