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Perceived Control and Anxiety in Portuguese Children

  • Ana I. F. Pereira (a1), Luísa Barros (a1) and Denisa Mendonça (a2)

The central role of perceived control in the development of anxiety disorders is proposed by several theoretical models. The main objective of the present study was to examine the relation between perceived control and anxiety in Portuguese school-age children. To accomplish this objective we developed the Portuguese short form of the Anxiety Control Questionnaire for Children (ACQ-C, Weems, 2005; Pereira & Barros, 2010), whose psychometric studies are presented. The sample comprised 238 children, aged 8 to 15 years, from the general population attending Portuguese schools. Children completed measures of perceived control (ACQ-C) and their anxiety (Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders – Revised, SCARED-R). The psychometric studies indicate good psychometric characteristics of the Portuguese ACQ-C short form, in particular a high internal consistency (α = .85) and an adequate temporal stability (r = .60, p = .002). Results show a significant negative association between perceived control and anxiety symptomatology, providing partial support for models that assign a central role to control beliefs in explaining the development of anxiety disorders. These results also suggest the importance of considering the perception of control as a prime target for preventive actions and intervention aimed at reducing anxiety in school aged children.

Diferentes modelos teóricos sugieren un papel central de la percepción de control en el desarrollo de trastornos de ansiedad. El objetivo principal del presente estudio fue examinar la relación entre la percepción de control y la ansiedad en niños portugueses en edad escolar. Para lograr este objetivo desarrollamos una versión portuguesa del Cuestionario de Control de la Ansiedad para Niños – forma abreviada (ACQ-C, Weems, 2005; Pereira & Barros, 2010), cuyos estudios psicométricos se presentan. El estudio se realizó con una muestra de 283 niños de la población general que asisten a escuelas primarias, con edades comprendidas entre los 8 y los 15años. Los niños completaron colectivamente la forma abreviada del Cuestionario de Control de la Ansiedad para Niños (ACQ-C) y la versión revisada del Cuestionario de Evaluación de Trastornos Emocionales Relacionados con la Ansiedad en Niños (SCARED-R). Los estudios psicométricos indican buenas características psicométricas de la versión portuguesa de ACQ-C, en particular una alta consistencia interna (α = .85) y una adecuada estabilidad temporal (r = .60, p = .002). Los resultados muestran una asociación negativa significativa entre la percepción de control y la sintomatología de la ansiedad, proporcionando apoyo parcial a los modelos que asignan un papel central a la percepción de control en la explicación del desarrollo de los trastornos de ansiedad. Estos resultados también sugieren la importancia de considerar la percepción de control como un objetivo prioritario para las acciones preventivas y de intervención dirigidas a reducir la ansiedad en los niños en edad escolar.

Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ana I. F. Pereira. Faculdade de Psicologia, Universidade de Lisboa, Alameda da Universidade, 1649-013 Lisboa (Portugal). E-mail:
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The Spanish Journal of Psychology
  • ISSN: 1138-7416
  • EISSN: 1988-2904
  • URL: /core/journals/spanish-journal-of-psychology
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