The Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-T) is one of the most widely used instruments to measure trait anxiety. Using this tool, experts can assess how long someone experiences symptoms related to anxiety, thus allowing them to evaluate whether they meet the criteria for clinical anxiety. However, two aspects of anxiety that are referenced on the STAI-T could give researchers more insight into the multiple dimensions and levels of anxiety. Daniel Rudaizky of the School of Psychology at the University of Western Australia believes anxiety reactivity and anxiety preservation are two aspects that should be explored further.
Anxiety reactivity refers to the state anxiety that someone experiences when exposed to stressors. Preservation of anxiety is the duration of these experiences. Because experiencing either of these conditions would result in a positive response to the general questions on the STAI-T, Rudaizky thought it would be prudent to examine these two unique states independently. In a recent study, Rudaizky interviewed 39 college students and asked them questions on the STAI-T. He then asked the students about their stress response level and how long it lasted. He found that although reactivity and preservation did indeed increase overall STAI-T scores, they had individual influences on trait anxiety. This suggests that the causes and effects of anxiety reactivity may be quite different from the causes and effects of anxiety preservation.
Rudaizky points out that the findings of his study were quite strong and evident across the entire sample, even those who had very low or very high levels of trait anxiety. He believes the results of this research demonstrate the need for a detailed examination of the subtle nuances of anxiety, such as reactivity and preservation. “Future psychometric research could usefully refine the questionnaire measurement of anxiety reactivity and perseveration, to yield instruments that optimize their differentiation,” Rudaizky said. This type of exploration could provide clinicians with information necessary to assess and treat clients experiencing a range of anxiety-related symptoms.
Rudaizky, Daniel, Andrew C. Page, and Colin MacLeod. Anxiety reactivity and anxiety preservation represent dissociable dimensions of trait anxiety. Emotion 12.5 (2012): 903-07. Print.
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