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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Effects of trait anxiety and cognitive appraisals on emotional reactions to psychological and physical stressors
by Abdullatif, Qutayba, Ph.D., University of South Florida, 2007, 75; 3292526
Abstract (Summary)

This study investigated the effects of individual differences in trait anxiety on cognitive appraisals and emotional reactions to stressful situations. Specifically, the effects of trait anxiety on the evaluation of psychological and physical threats to well-being were examined in relation to state-anxiety. To accomplish this goal, a proposed model consisting of elements from the Lazarus and Folkman Stress and Coping Model (1984) and Spielberger’s State Trait distinctions is presented.

To our knowledge, this is the first proposed model to attempt to combine trait anxiety, primary and secondary appraisals, and state anxiety and to utilize path analytic models in assessing empirical and theoretical fit.

Results from mean comparisons indicate that participants reacted with higher elevations of S-anxiety in the psychological threat condition as compared to the physical threat condition. This finding is significant and unique since this is the first study that examines the differential effect of the type of stressor on the mediated path between T-anxiety and S-anxiety. Additional analyses indicated that T-Anxiety also influenced primary and secondary cognitive appraisals and participants with higher T-Anxiety demonstrated higher levels of primary appraisals and lower levels of secondary appraisals.

The most interesting findings are probably the different indices of empirical and theoretical fit across the two predictive regression-based path analytic models of state-trait distinction in psychological and physical threat conditions. In comparing the two models, it is interesting to note that T-Anxiety had a consistent (and equal) predictive influence on pre-task S-Anxiety (β=.413, p<.05, R2</super>=17.1%).

Other interesting findings across the two models are related to the predictive effects of T-anxiety on primary and secondary appraisals in the psychological condition, and the lack of these effects in the physical threat condition. T-anxiety had a direct effect on post-task S-anxiety only in the psychological condition and not in the physical condition. Pre-task S-anxiety had a predictive value on post task S-anxiety in both threat conditions, had a predictive influence on primary appraisals only in the psychological threat condition, and did not have any influence on secondary appraisals.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Spielberger, Charles
School: University of South Florida
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-B 68/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychotherapy
Keywords: Anxiety, Cognitive appraisals, Coping, Physical danger, Psychological threat, Stress reactions
Publication Number: 3292526
ISBN: 978-0-549-35906-7
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