Examination of Relationship between Anxiety Sensitivity and Parenting Styles in Adolescents

Article excerpt


This research investigated the relationships between anxiety sensitivity and perceived parenting styles of adolescents and the predictive role of perceived parenting styles on anxiety sensitivity. The study group was composed by 545 (255 females; 290 males) students studying in different high schools in Mugla. The data were collected using the Anxiety Sensitivity Index-R, and Parental Attitudes Scale. Pearson Product-Moment Correlation analysis was employed to search for relationships between anxiety sensitivity and parenting styles; multiple hierarchical regression analysis was also used for explaining anxiety sensitivity. The findings showed that the democratic, protective-demanding, and authoritarian parenting styles were found to be significantly correlated to anxiety sensitivity and democratic, protective-demanding, and authoritarian parenting styles important predictors of anxiety sensitivity.

Key Words

Anxiety Sensitivity, Parenting Styles, Adolescents.

Human beings change and develop continuously throughout their life. One of the periods that these changes occur is the adolescence period. Many emotional problems, difficulties seen in adolescence are closely linked to the quality of the relationship as an infant with the first caregiver (Bowlby, 1969). In adolescence various biological, cognitive, emotional, and social changes take place, affecting the parent-child relationship (Lerner et al., 1996). Therefore, it seems necessary to clarify which factors influence parenting styles in this particular period of life (Düzgün, 1995). It is widely assumed that the nature and quality of the interactions between parents and adolescents can contribute to young people's well-being (Bandura, 1997). Anxiety disorders have been associated with a variety of maladaptive cognitive styles (Andrews et al., 2003). For example, anxiety has been associated with increased attention to potentially threatening stimuli and a tendency to interpret neutral stimuli as threatening; lower perceived controllability of situations (Chorpita & Barlow, 1998; Çifter, 1985; Dag, 1999; Ertürk, 1994; Geçtan, 2003; Özusta, 1993; Ulutag, 1999) and increased fear and avoidance of anxiety related symptoms (Kaya, 2001; Reiss, 1991; Reiss & McNally, 1985). These reliable findings have led to some of the most widely accepted theories of anxiety development and maintenance. Anxiety sensitivity is fear of internal anxiety symptoms arising from the belief that the symptoms have harmful physical, psychological, and/or social consequences. Anxiety sensitivity refers to the extent of beliefs that anxiety symptoms or arousal can have harmful consequences (Starcevic & Berle, 2006). There is growing evidence for anxiety sensitivity as a risk factor for anxiety disorders. Anxiety sensitivity is elevated in panic disorder as well as other anxiety disorders (Gorman, Kent, Sullivan, & Coplan, 2000). It is thought to contribute to the maintenance and severity of anxiety symptoms (Asmundson, 2001). Anxiety sensitivity plays an important role in shaping the risk of developing various types of fears and anxiety disorders (Taylor, 1999).

Given the importance of anxiety sensitivity for understanding these emotional problems, it is important to gain a better understanding of the nature and etiology of anxiety sensitivity (Taylor, 1995). In addition to genetic factors, and specific types of learning experiences, interpersonal factors may also play a role in the development of elevated anxiety sensitivity (Taylor, Jang, Stewart, & Stein, 2008; Taylor, Koch, Woody, & McLean, 1996). Assuming parenting styles play a central role in the development of anxiety disorders, it becomes important to understand how overprotective parenting exacerbates or spurs the development of anxiety symptoms (Adler, 1963; Baldwin, McIntyre, & Hardaway, 2007; Çagdag & Seçer, 2004; Erkan, 2002; Navaro, 1989; Yavuzer, 2005). The theories of Chorpita and Barlow (1998), and Rapee (2001) provide insight into potential explanations for this relationship. …


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