The Expectancy Theory of Fear, Anxiety, and Panic: A Conceptual and Empirical Analysis
Steven Taylor Ingrid C. Fedoroff University of British , Columbia
Anxiety sensitivity (AS) -- the fear of anxiety-related sensations -- has been the center of many debates in recent years. These include debates regarding the measurement of AS, its factor structure and relationship to trait anxiety, and its relationship to panic attacks (e.g., Lilienfeld, 1996a, 1996b; Lilienfeld, Turner, & Jacob, 1993, 1996, 1998; McNally, 1966a, 1996b; Reiss, 1997; Taylor, 1955a, 1995b, 1996). These and related issues are reviewed in various chapters in this volume (see chaps. 4-7). An important area that has escaped critical scrutiny is Reiss' expectancy theory ( Reiss, 1980, 1991; Reiss & McNally, 1985). This oversight is surprising because the expectancy theory provides an important theoretical context for AS. The theory was developed to explain how and why AS could cause fear, anxiety, panic, and avoidance behavior. This chapter examines the expectancy theory and reviews its empirical support. It also suggests several conceptual extensions of the theory and some new directions for future investigation.
Central to Reiss' theory is the notion of fundamental fears (sensitivities). Reiss ( 1991) proposed that there are three fundamental fears: AS; fear of illness,