, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 619-638
Date: 13 Feb 2007

An investigation of appraisals in individuals vulnerable to excessive worry: the role of intolerance of uncertainty

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Abstract

Several studies have been conducted to examine whether the construct of intolerance of uncertainty (IU) (Dugas, Gagnon, Ladouceur, & Freeston, Behaviour Research and Therapy, 36, 215–226, 1998b) meets formal criteria as a cognitive vulnerability for excessive and uncontrollable worry. Cognitive models of anxiety suggest that vulnerability is manifest in the manner in which individuals process information. As such, cognitive bias is expected to be observed in individuals characterized by high levels of a putative cognitive vulnerability. In this study, individuals low (n = 110) and high (n = 89) on IU were compared on their appraisals of ambiguous, negative, and positive situations. Individuals high on IU appraised all situation types as more disconcerting relative to the comparison group. However, when controlling for demographics, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) symptoms, and mood variables, the groups differed only in their appraisals of ambiguous situations. Further, in the high-vulnerability group, degree of IU was a stronger predictor of appraisals of ambiguous situations than were GAD symptoms and mood variables. Tests of mediation showed that appraisals of ambiguous situations partly mediated the relationship of IU to worry, the main symptom of GAD; however, worry also emerged as a partial mediator of the relation of IU to appraisals of ambiguous situations. An exploratory analysis revealed that in individuals high on IU, appraisals were not specific to the content of current worries, whereas they were to some extent in individuals low on IU. The results are discussed within the context of findings emerging from cognitive models of GAD, in particular the model proposed by Dugas et al. (1998b).