Author

Amrit Kaur

Date Approved

10-4-2011

Date Posted

11-8-2011

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Ellen Koch, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Tamara Loverich, PhD,

Committee Member

Barry Fish, PhD,

Committee Member

Devika Dibya Choudhuri, PhD

Abstract

The literature has shown anxiety sensitivity to be a significant risk factor in the development of pathological anxiety. Recent theoretical models have also emphasized the additional importance of emotion regulation in predicting the development of anxiety disorders. The present study examined the interactive influence of anxiety sensitivity and emotion regulatory strategies on anxiety symptoms in an ethnically diverse sample recruited in Singapore in order to determine the most appropriate anxiety prevention strategies to pursue. Results indicate that emotion regulation skills had a much greater effect on anxiety levels in this non-clinical sample than anxiety sensitivity and, second, that emotion regulation skills partially mediated the effect of anxiety sensitivity on anxiety such that emotion regulation accounted for 77% of the impact. Therefore, instruction in emotion regulation skills provides potentially a far more effective means of preventing anxiety than the targeting of anxiety sensitivity in the cultural groups studied. A second aim of the study was to determine if anxiety sensitivity varies across cultures, and if the difference is accounted for by an individual’s awareness, understanding, and ability to communicate his or her feelings (alexithymia). Anxiety sensitivity and alexithymia did not, in fact, vary across the Chinese, Malay, and Indian students sampled. However, Singapore participants in general reported far higher anxiety sensitivity and trait anxiety scores than similar American and international samples. Further, Indian participants had significantly lower anxiety and emotion regulation difficulties, including alexithymia, than Chinese and Malay participants.

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