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Avoidable Uncertainty: Understanding the Relationship between Anxiety and Anger

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Avoidable Uncertainty: Understanding the Relationship between Anxiety and Anger

Anderson, Kristin Gem (2014) Avoidable Uncertainty: Understanding the Relationship between Anxiety and Anger. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Heightened levels of anxiety are associated with elevated levels of anger (Moscovitch et al., 2008). Given that the relationship between anxiety and anger is not well understood, the general goal of this dissertation is to better understand this relationship. More specifically, the goal of this dissertation is to propose and test a general theory to account for the co-occurrence of these two negative emotional states. Specifically, it is proposed that heighted expectations for certainty, when violated, explain the co-occurrence of anxiety and anger. That is, when one’s state of uncertainty is perceived as unavoidable, anxiety is experienced, however; when one’s state of uncertainty is perceived as avoidable, anxiety and anger result. In study 1, the Violated Expectations for Certainty Diary (VEC-D) was developed to assess expectations for certainty. The VEC-D contains 18 scenarios where uncertainty is present but could be perceived as avoidable. For each scenario, participants (N = 389) rated the extent to which they expected to attain certainty, along with other emotional reactions. The VEC-D demonstrated good psychometric properties with excellent test-retest reliability over a 2-week period, good internal consistency, and evidence of convergent and divergent validity. Exploratory factor analysis revealed that the scenarios included in the VEC-D loaded onto two distinct but related factors: scenarios where the potential negative outcome is non-social and scenarios where the potential negative outcome is social. The goal of study 2 was to experimentally induce a state of uncertainty and then to manipulate whether that state is avoidable. To do this, all participants experienced the uncertainty induction and then were randomly assigned to the avoidable uncertainty condition (experimental group n = 40) or the unavoidable uncertainty condition (control group n = 45). Results showed that the uncertainty induction was successful such that participants reported higher levels of anxiety relative to baseline. Consistent with the hypothesis, those in the experimental group reported increases in anger following the manipulation whereas those in the control group reported decreases in anger. Taken together these findings suggest that when heightened expectations for certainty are violated, anger is experienced in the context of anxiety.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Anderson, Kristin Gem
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Psychology
Date:5 December 2014
Thesis Supervisor(s):Dugas, Michel and Radomsky, Adam
ID Code:979600
Deposited By: KRISTIN ANDERSON
Deposited On:16 Jul 2015 15:41
Last Modified:22 Jul 2019 17:35
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