Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School


Committee Member

Ellen Koch, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Flora Hoodin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tamara Loverich, Ph.D.


According to the avoidance theory of worry proposed by Borkovec, Alcaine, and Behar (2004), chronic worry functions as an avoidance mechanism, enabling an individual to diminish the physiological experience of anxiety by impeding emotional processing of the fear stimulus. Previous research has revealed significant correlations between chronic worry and difficulties in emotion regulation (Salters-Pedneault et al., 2006) as well as anxiety sensitivity (Floyd, Garfield, & LaSota, 2005). Distress tolerance which is significantly related to anxiety sensitivity (Bernstein, Zvolensky, Vujanovic, & Moos, 2009) is strongly associated with many maladaptive avoidance behaviors (Anestis et al., 2007; Linehan, 1993; Timpano et al., 2009; Vujanovic et al., 2011). The present study examined the relationships among these variables, as investigators hypothesized that distress tolerance would be a significant predictor of worry. Undergraduate and graduate Eastern Michigan University students (n = 470) completed several measures via an on-line survey system. Analyses of the data support correlational relationships between anxiety sensitivity, difficulties in emotion regulation, avoidance constructs and worry presented in previous research. Distress tolerance was also found to significantly negatively correlate with worry. Additionally, analyses revealed distress tolerance, psychological flexibility, and cognitive avoidance to be significant predictors of worry. These novel findings add to the literature on the development and maintenance of chronic worry. The discovery of this significant relationship sheds light on avenues for clinical improvement in treating worry. Finally, the present study provides theoretical support for acceptance-based behavioral therapies (ABBTs), which have been yielding promising results for chronic worriers.

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