Positive and Negative Thoughts in Ambiguous Anxiety-Related Stories: The Child’s Perspective

Filomena Valadão Dias, Raquel V. Oliveira, Isabel Leal, João Maroco


Aim: To evaluate the presence/absence, frequency of cognitive products (positive, negative and neutral thoughts) in a Portuguese community sample of children aged 10 and 11 years.
Method: A total of 274 children participated in this study, 151 girls and 123 boys, from the 5th and 6th grades, aged 10 and 11 years. Cognitive products were accessed through children’s cognitive responses to the Nine Ambiguous Stories.
Results: The answers to the nine stories produced 6,633 thoughts (positive -
2,570, negative - 4,063, neutral - 32). The number of positive and negative thoughts varied according to the stories. The absence of either positive or negative thoughts was observed in a very small number of children. The simultaneous presence of positive and negative thoughts per child occurred in all stories. More than half of the children showed more negative thoughts in all stories except for stories 2 and 6.
Conclusion: The results of this study contribute to the understanding of cognitive development of children, based on what is known and observed in the child and calls attention to the importance of the research of positive and negative content of thoughts shown by children and their impact on childhood anxiety.


anxiety; child; cognition; developmental; positive and negative thoughts; cognitive products