Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Personality and Worry: The Role of Intolerance of Uncertainty

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Personality and Worry: The Role of Intolerance of Uncertainty

Article excerpt

Worry can be defined as anxious apprehension, and refers to concern about the uncertain outcome of future events (MacLeod, Williams, & Bekerian, 1991). It is common in both clinical and nonclinical populations (Tallis, Davey, & Capuzzo, 1994), and researchers have suggested that it is helpful in preparing individuals for future events (Davey, 2006, MacLeod et al., 1991). Several researchers have noted that excessive worriers often endorse certain advantages of worry, for example, that worry helps them to solve problems and allows them to avoid dangers (Davey, 2006; Ruscio & Borkovec, 2004; Wells, 1995). However, uncontrollable and excessive worry is the core feature of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD; American Psychiatric Association, 2013; Wells, 2004).

The relationship between personality and worry is consistent. In the etiological model of anxiety proposed by van der Heiden et al. (2010), personality factors, such as neuroticism and extraversion, are viewed as general vulnerability factors, whereas cognitive factors are regarded as specific vulnerability factors. High neuroticism and low extraversion are associated with a high level of worry (Middeldorp et al., 2005). In the same vein, van der Heiden et al. (2010) proposed a model of GAD in which neuroticism is a component of vulnerability toward worry. Researchers have found that the combination of general vulnerability factors (e.g., neuroticism and extraversion) and a specific vulnerability factor results in worry (Sexton, Norton, Walker, & Norton, 2003). Different mediators can cause different types of anxiety disorder, such as GAD (van der Heiden et al., 2010), social anxiety, and panic and obsessive-compulsive disorders (Carleton et al., 2012; Taylor, 1998). Brown and Naragon-Gainey (2013) evaluated a triple vulnerability model (Barlow, 2000, 2002) and found that neuroticism was associated with anxiety and mood disorders to varying degrees, with the strongest relationship being with GAD, and low extraversion most closely linked to social phobia. Extraversion also had a significant direct effect on obsessive-compulsive disorder when combined with other factors (Brown & Naragon-Gainey, 2013).

Researchers have demonstrated that general vulnerability factors (such as personality) have a significant impact on generalized anxiety symptoms (Freeston, Rhéaume, Letarte, Dugas, & Ladouceur, 1994; van der Heiden et al., 2010). However, other researchers have stated that personality factors (e.g., neuroticism) are too broad to provide a sufficiently detailed explanation of their influence on anxiety (Ormel, Rosmalen, & Farmer, 2004). Claridge and Davis (2001) emphasized that the combination of personality factors and a specific vulnerability factor would make the explanation more persuasive, and van der Heiden et al. (2010) and Brown and Naragon-Gainey (2013) considered personality factors to be associated with worry-related disorders.

Although many cognitive factors, such as metacognition (Wells, 2005), are related to a high level of worry, intolerance of uncertainty (IU) may play an essential role in the etiology and maintenance of worry (Freeston et al., 1994). IU refers to "the excessive tendency of an individual to consider it unacceptable that a negative event may occur, however small the probability of its occurrence" (Dugas, Gosselin, & Ladouceur, 2001, p. 552). Although different kinds of uncertainty and ambiguous conditions occur frequently in daily life, individuals with high IU are very likely to find it intolerable when they are in these conditions. Previous researchers have found that individuals with high IU experienced more difficulties accomplishing ambiguous tasks than did individuals with low IU (Metzger, Miller, Cohen, Sofka, & Borkovec, 1990). The presence of IU distinguishes individuals with clinical and nonclinical GAD (Ladouceur, Blais, Freeston, & Dugas, 1998), and also differentiates between diagnosis with GAD compared to other anxiety disorders (Ladouceur et al. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.