Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



The purpose of this study was to investigate the role that fear in childhood plays in socio-emotional functioning in late adolescence. In addition, the role of parental support in this relationship was examined. Participants included 70 college students, ages 18-25 years, who completed measures that assessed their fears and perceptions of social support from parents in childhood, as well as aspects of their present wellbeing (e.g., self-esteem, mood, depressive symptoms). Results interestingly indicated that, “someone in the family dying” was the most highly rated fear in both childhood and late adolescence. Also, fear of family members dying and family members becoming ill were rated higher than personal fears of death, or getting cancer for each age range. Furthermore, there were significant correlations between childhood and late adolescent fear for each of the 74 specific fears assessed. Thus childhood fear and late adolescent fear are directly linked. Lastly, analyses showed that for those with low levels of parental support, childhood fear was associated with lower wellbeing, whereas for those with high levels of parental support, there was no relation between childhood fear and late adolescent wellbeing. Results suggest that high levels of parental support serve as a type of buffer for children with fear, protecting their future wellbeing. Limitations of the present study, as well as future directions for research, are discussed.