Look before you leap: the role of negative urgency in appraisals of ambiguous and unambiguous scenarios in individuals high in generalized anxiety disorder symptoms Academic Article uri icon

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  • Negative interpretation bias, the propensity to make threatening interpretations of ambiguous information, is associated with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Apart from its relationship with intolerance of uncertainty (IU), little is known about what explains the presence of this cognitive bias in GAD. One factor may be negative urgency (NU), the tendency to take rash action when distressed, which is related to GAD symptoms and to cognitive biases in nonclinical populations. The aim of the present study was to examine the relationship between NU and interpretation bias in individuals high in GAD symptoms (N = 111). IU, trait anxiety, and other forms of impulsivity were examined concurrently as competing correlates of interpretation bias. Greater NU and IU were found to be unique correlates of greater threatening interpretations of ambiguous scenarios. Greater NU was also a unique correlate of greater threatening interpretations of negative and positive scenarios. No other forms of impulsivity were uniquely related to interpretation bias. The findings suggest that greater NU may have a role in the tendency for individuals high in GAD symptoms to make threatening interpretations in response to ambiguous scenarios, overtly threatening situations, and situations without indication of threat or danger. Theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.


  • Malivoire, Bailee L
  • Marcos, Michelle
  • Pawluk, Elizabeth
  • Tallon, Kathleen
  • Kusec, Andrea
  • Koerner, Naomi

publication date

  • May 4, 2019