Dimensions of Anxiety Sensitivity
Richard E. Zinbarg Jan Mohlman Nicholas N. Hong University of Oregon
Reiss and colleagues ( Reiss, 1987, 1991; Reiss & McNally, 1985; Reiss, Peterson, Gursky, & McNally, 1986) defined anxiety sensitivity (AS) as the fear of anxiety and anxiety-related sensations arising from beliefs that anxiety and related sensations have harmful consequences. Theoretical and empirical work over the past two decades accords AS and closely related constructs (such as the fear of fear) a central role in the nature and etiology of the anxiety disorders in general and panic disorder in particular (e.g., Barlow, 1988, 1991; Clark, 1986; Goldstein & Chambless, 1978; McNally, 1990; Reiss, 1991; Reiss & McNally, 1985; Reiss, Peterson, Gursky, & McNally, 1986).
Given the prominent role of the AS construct in current models of panic disorder and other anxiety disorders, it is important to critically examine the validity of the AS construct and the psychometric instruments devised to measure it. The primary purpose of this chapter is to review the literature bearing on the dimensionality of AS and the factor structure of the measures used as putative indicators of AS. This is an important undertaking for two reasons. First, an examination of dimensionality is one of the critical steps in the construct validation process within any given domain. Second, although consensus is beginning to emerge in this literature, the dimensionality of AS has been a controversial issue in the past. At the one extreme pole of this debate, some researchers hypothesized AS to be a unidimensional construct (e.g., McNally, 1996; Reiss, 1991). At the opposite pole, other researchers hypothe-