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Examining anxiety sensitivity, metacognitions, and anxiety symptoms

Faculty Advisor




anxiety sensitivity, anxiety disorders, metacognitions, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), worry

Abstract (summary)

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is defined by chronic, distressing worry regarding multiple areas of a person’s life. One thought pattern that is known to contribute to GAD symptoms is anxiety sensitivity (AS). AS can be thought of as the fear of anxiety and its consequences. Two other thought patterns that contribute to GAD are positive beliefs about worry (PBW) and negative beliefs about worry (NBW). PBW refers to beliefs that worry is a positive tool for things like problem solving. NBW refers to beliefs that worrying is harmful or uncontrollable. While both PBW and NBW are related to GAD, NBW’s relationship is much stronger. In Fall 2022, I conducted a study that examined how PBW and NBW interact with AS to contribute to GAD. Given NBW’s much stronger relationship with GAD than PBW, I predicted that only NBW would interact with AS to contribute to GAD symptoms. Data from 573 student self-reports showed that AS, NBW, and PBW all independently related to GAD without relying on one another. However, these findings may have been affected by an abnormally anxious student sample. Given this, a second running of this study with a non-student sample is planned, which will additionally examine how fears of uncertain future events, as well as tendencies to experience negative emotions, are associated with GAD. While these preliminary findings were unexpected, they provide a valuable foundation for future research, and may be relevant to understanding how different thought patterns can contribute to the same disorder.

Publication Information



Presented on April 20, 2023 at Student Research Day held at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta.

Item Type

Student Presentation



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