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Threat expectancy mediates the relationship between attributional style for negative outcomes and anxiety

Research paper by Robert M. Lynd-Stevenson, Lydia M. Rigano

Indexed on: 01 Dec '96Published on: 01 Dec '96Published in: Cognitive therapy and research



Abstract

Recent research has failed to support the prediction that expectancy mediates the relationship between attributional style for negative outcomes and anxiety. The proposal in the present study was that the mediation hypothesis had not been supported because the measure of expectancy failed to evaluate the type of expectations directly involved in the etiology of anxiety. Beck has proposed that the expectations responsible for generating anxiety often reflect the degree of threat posed by an undesirable life event that may occur in the future. A sample of 104 students nearing the end of university were interviewed and scores obtained on measures of attributional style for positive and negative outcomes, threat expectancy regarding the prospect of future unemployment, and anxiety about future unemployment (“unemployment anxiety”). The findings supported the prediction that threat expectancy mediates the relationship between attributional style for negative outcomes and unemployment anxiety. There was also evidence consistent with the tripartite model of anxiety and depression that attributional style for positive outcomes is unrelated to the cognitive processes that generate anxiety. Directions for future research are proposed and limitations of the present study outlined.