Authors: Emily D. Barnes, Amie E. Grills, Sharon R. Vaughn.

Article: Relationships between Anxiety, Attention, and Reading Comprehension in Children.

Publication: Child Psychiatry & Human Development (Under Review) (Springer). 2023 | DOI: 10.21203/

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Many studies link anxiety in children with reading difficulties, but some facets of anxiety have been found to be positively associated with reading achievement. Attentional Control Theory offers a potential explanation for these seemingly contradictory findings, positing that anxiety can both interfere in attentional processes and enhance effort and use of compensatory processing strategies. The current study examines the relationships between anxiety, attentional control, and reading comprehension in a racially-diverse sample of 251 second-grade students, most of whom were struggling readers. Results showed that harm avoidance was positively associated with reading comprehension and physical symptoms of anxiety were negatively associated with reading comprehension. These links were attenuated when including attentional control in the model, suggesting mediation and lending support to Attentional Control Theory. Further research is needed to confirm causal mediation effects between anxiety, attentional control, and reading performance.

Tagged as: anxiety, attention, attentional control, executive function, and reading comprehension