Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

Clinical Psychology, PhD

Committee Chair

Woodruff-Borden, Janet

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Rosen, Paul

Committee Member

Rosen, Paul

Committee Member

Cashon, Cara

Committee Member

Marvin, Kelli

Committee Member

Salmon, Paul

Author's Keywords

African American children; worry; intolerance of uncertainty; cognitive factors; sociocultural factors


Our understanding of worry in children and adolescents has been increasingly enhanced over the past decade through the downward extension of adult cognitive models. Although our knowledge about the cognitive factors that place children at risk for worry has grown, little is known about these processes within African American youth. This is particularly notable given extant work suggesting that risk and protective processes are influenced by contextual factors. The current study reviews literatures regarding cognitive factors associated with worry and sociocultural factors salient to the African American context in order to inform a culturally-sensitive cognitive model of worry in African American children. Next, the basic tenets of the proposed model are empirically tested. Specifically, the current study tests the hypothesis that cognitive factors would be significantly and positively associated with worry in African American children. In addition, the hypothesis that racial socialization, collective coping, and positive religious coping would be negatively associated with worry was examined. Finally, it was predicted that the aforementioned sociocultural variables would cumulatively moderate cumulative cognitive vulnerability in that higher levels of sociocultural experiences would mitigate the relationship between cognitive factors and worry. In order to evaluate these hypotheses, 50 African American children and their parents were recruited from the community to complete self-report questionnaires. Overall, the results partially supported the study hypotheses. Cognitive factors, including intolerance of uncertainty, negative problem orientation, positive beliefs about worry, and negative beliefs about worry contributed significant variance to worry, with negative beliefs about worry emerging as the strongest predictor. However, the second two hypotheses were largely not supported, as racial socialization, positive religious coping, and collective coping did not significantly contribute to child worry in the expected direction nor cumulatively moderate the relationship between total cognitive vulnerability and worry. Follow-up exploratory analyses revealed that the relationship between sociocultural experiences and worry did not change as a function of familial ethnic identity. These findings are discussed in comparison to previously established literature in non-Hispanic White children and African American adults, and implications for conceptual models of worry and clinical work are discussed. Directions for future research are also provided.