Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

pp 1989-1989

Trait Anxiety

  • Yori GidronAffiliated withFaculty of Medicine & Pharmacy, Free University of Brussels (VUB) Email author 


Trait anxiety refers to the stable tendency to attend to, experience, and report negative emotions such as fears, worries, and anxiety across many situations. This is part of the personality dimension of neuroticism versus emotional stability. Trait anxiety also manifests by repeated concerns about and reporting of body symptoms. Trait anxiety is characterized by a stable perception of environmental stimuli (events, others’ statements) as threatening. Trait-anxious people often experience and express also state anxiety, in situations in which most people do not experience such responses. This bias is thought to reflect a cognitive-perceptual bias. At the perceptual level, there is an overattentional bias to threatening stimuli. At the cognitive level, there is a distorted negative interpretation of information congruent with and fostering anxious responses. Finally, at the level of memory, there is overrecall of threatening information. These three biases are common ...

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