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State Anxiety

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Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences


Concern; Fear; Worry


State anxiety is an acute form of anxiety experienced in a particular and temporary situation and distinct from trait anxiety (i.e., a dispositional and relatively chronic state of anxiety). Episodes are accompanied by both emotional (e.g., feelings of fear), cognitive (e.g. appraisals of threat), and physiological (e.g., activation of the autonomic nervous system) changes.


State anxiety is a temporary experience of fear and arousal that is elicited from a real (e.g., a car careening toward you while crossing the street) or potential (e.g., concerns that you won’t complete an assignment by the deadline) threatening situation (Speilberger 1972). There is considerable variability in the stimuli that elicit anxiety as well as the frequency and intensity with which anxiety is experienced. Similar variability is observed in how people cope with situational experiences of anxiety. Below is a summary of the emotional, cognitive, and...

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Correspondence to Benjamin E. Hutchins .

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Hutchins, B.E., Young, S.G. (2018). State Anxiety. In: Zeigler-Hill, V., Shackelford, T. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham.

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