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01-08-2014 | Brief Report | Uitgave 4/2014

Cognitive Therapy and Research 4/2014

The Moderating Role of Experiential Avoidance in the Prospective Relationship Between Anxiety Sensitivity and Anxiety

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 4/2014
Joseph R. Bardeen, Thomas A. Fergus, Holly K. Orcutt


Cross-sectional research has shown that the association between anxiety sensitivity (i.e., a trait-like fear of anxiety-related bodily sensations due to beliefs that these sensations engender negative outcomes) and anxiety becomes stronger as experiential avoidance (i.e., an unwillingness to stay in contact with unwanted inner experiences) increases. The present study sought to extend cross-sectional research by examining whether the moderating impact of experiential avoidance would be observed when examining anxiety sensitivity as a prospective predictor of anxiety over the course of two assessment sessions (T1 and T2). Participants (N = 135) were non-treatment seeking undergraduate students. As predicted, T1 experiential avoidance moderated the relationship between T1 anxiety sensitivity and T2 anxiety, even after accounting for T1 anxiety. The interaction was tested with simple slopes analysis and results suggest that anxiety sensitivity may only be a vulnerability factor for the development of anxiety among those who are prone to higher levels of experiential avoidance. Thus, experiential avoidance may be a particularly important treatment target among individuals with high anxiety sensitivity.

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