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01-04-2013 | Uitgave 3/2013

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 3/2013

Goal Internalization and Outcome Expectancy in Adolescent Anxiety

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology > Uitgave 3/2013
Joanne M. Dickson, Nicholas J. Moberly


Anxiety has been conceptualized in terms of increased avoidance motivation and higher expectancies of undesirable outcomes. However, anxiety research has hitherto not examined an important qualitative aspect of motivation: the degree to which reasons for goal pursuit are experienced as controlling and originating outside the core self. We asked 70 adolescents (34 boys, 36 girls; aged 16–18 years) to list their important approach and avoidance goals, and rate the extent to which they pursued each goal for intrinsic, identified, introjected and external reasons. Participants also rated goal importance, expectancies for goal outcomes, and completed an anxious symptom measure. Broadly in line with predictions, anxiety was significantly associated with introjected reasons for pursuing approach goals and external reasons for pursuing avoidance goals but not with autonomous reasons for goal pursuit. As predicted, anxiety was significantly associated with heightened expectancies of undesirable avoidance goal outcomes, but not with expectancies for desirable approach goal outcomes. Results suggest that the salient role of avoidance-based motivation in anxiety extends to introjected reasons underlying approach goal pursuit. Our findings point to the theoretical and clinical importance of addressing controlled reasons for goal pursuit in adolescent anxiety.

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