Cognitive Vulnerability, Stress Generation, and Anxiety

Symptoms Clusters and Gender Differences

Published In: International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, v. 5, no. 1, Mar. 2012, p. 50-66

Posted on RAND.org on March 01, 2012

by Randy P Auerbach, Sarah Richardt, Sarah Kertz, Nicole K. Eberhart

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The aim of the present study was to examine whether low perceived control, a cognitive vulnerability factor, contributes to stress generation. We examined whether low perceived control contributed to greater dependent interpersonal, but not noninterpersonal, stressors, and whether such stressors then contributed to higher levels of anxious symptoms. As research has indicated that adolescent girls and boys report different patterns of anxious symptoms, we hypothesized that the stress generation effect would vary as a function of gender. We utilized a 6-month, multiwave longitudinal design, and results indicated that dependent interpersonal stress mediated the relationship between low perceived control and higher levels of social anxious symptoms in girls. Conversely, boys who exhibited low perceived control experienced a greater occurrence of dependent interpersonal stressors, which then triggered higher levels of physical anxious symptoms. Additionally, the stress generation effect emerged when examining total anxious symptoms in girls but not boys.

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