Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Specific phobias are the most prevalent disorder among adults and highly common among children. Additionally, specific phobias diagnosed in childhood has been associated other serious mental illnesses later in life (de Vrie et al., 2019). Research pertaining to parenting factors associated with anxiety disorders has been extensive, including parental psychopathology, parent-child relationships, parental control, and parental stress. However, less emphasis has been placed on familial factors which may contribute to the development and maintenance of specific phobias. According to the limited literature focusing on the family factors associated with specific phobias, parent psychopathology and parent over-control are important factors. Multiple etiological pathways (i.e., genetics, environmental pathways) to the development of specific phobias and anxiety have been researched (Muris & Merckelbach, 2012; Nebel-Schwalm & Davis, 2013). This dissertation examined the relationship between parenting factors and childhood specific phobias compared to other childhood diagnoses. The first analysis examined group differences in childhood diagnoses (i.e., specific phobia, anxiety disorders, ADHD, and no diagnoses) for parenting factors (i.e., parent control, parent-child relationship, symptoms of parent psychopathology) using a one-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). Results indicated that there were significant group differences between the ADHD group compared to the specific phobia group and the anxiety disorder group. The second analysis examined the relationship between specific phobias and parent stress using parent control and parent-child relationship as moderators. The results indicated that specific phobias predicted higher levels of parent stress when there were high levels of parent control. Future directions of research should expand on other parent factors, specific parental psychopathology, and longitudinal data points for children with specific phobias.



Committee Chair

Davis, III, Thompson E.



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