Anxiety sensitivity: Theoretical perspectives and recent findings Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Anxiety sensitivity (AS) is the fear of anxiety-related sensations, which arises from beliefs that these sensations have harmful somatic, psychological or social consequences. According to Reiss (1991), AS is one of three fundamental fears that amplify or cause many common fears. AS also is thought to play an important role in causing panic attacks. The purpose of the present article is to review recent findings concerning the construct of AS and its place in the nomological network outlined by Reiss. Although the weight of evidence supports a unifactorial model of AS, recent findings suggest AS is multifactorial at the level of first-order factors, and these factors load on a single higher-order factor. People with elevated AS, compared to those with low AS, are more likely to have histories of panic attacks. AS is factorially distinct from other fundamental fears, and is more strongly related to agoraphobia than other common fears. AS can be regarded as a subfactor of trait anxiety, and is more strongly related to agoraphobia than other common fears. AS can be regarded as a subfactor of trait anxiety, although the question arises as to whether AS is a cause of trait anxiety. Important questions for further investigation concern the etiology of AS and whether it can be reduced to still more basic fears.

publication date

  • March 1995