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Within Person Associations of Thought Uncontrollability and Negative Valence with Anxiety Symptoms: A Daily Diary Investigation

Ebalu, Tracie Irrowen (2024) Within Person Associations of Thought Uncontrollability and Negative Valence with Anxiety Symptoms: A Daily Diary Investigation. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Background: Perseverative thought (PT) is a cognitive process involving marked repetitive and uncontrollable mental activity centered on a particular theme. Recently, research investigating the characteristics of PT that vary within person has identified thought uncontrollability and negative valence as characteristics of PT that are strongly related to anxiety-related disorders at the between-person level. Despite findings that thought uncontrollability and negative valence are dissociable dimensional features of PT, no studies have looked at their concurrent or prospective within-person associations with anxiety. This research gap is important to address because major psychological theories of PT propose a specific role for uncontrollability, above and beyond negative valence, in contributing to the adverse effects of PT. Thus, this study uses a prospective longitudinal daily diary design to investigate the independent and incremental within-person associations of thought uncontrollability and negative valence with anxiety symptoms.

Method: Prospective daily-diary measures of thought uncontrollability (hard-to-stop, intrusive, repetitive), negative valence (happy [reversed scored], nervous), and anxiety symptoms were completed by 200 undergraduate students for 15 days. Six multilevel models were conducted to examine the within person associations of thought uncontrollability and negative valence with anxiety symptoms. Two sensitivity analyses examined whether greater thought uncontrollability was differentially associated with specific facets of anxiety (anxious arousal and anxious

Results: Uncontrollability and negative valence were positively associated with same-day anxiety symptoms. Furthermore, uncontrollability was incrementally positively associated with same-day anxiety symptoms beyond negative valence. However, greater uncontrollability did not predict next-day anxiety symptoms. Unexpectedly, greater uncontrollability was related to both higher anxious arousal and higher anxious apprehension within person.

Conclusion: This study suggests that negative valence and uncontrollability are transdiagnostic characteristics of PT that relate to anxiety, but may not prospectively predict anxiety, within person. Future research should directly explore the temporal specificity of how these dimensions of PT relate to anxiety over time.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Ebalu, Tracie Irrowentracie.ebalu@pitt.edutie60000-0002-8564-5961
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee MemberAndreescu, Carmenandrcx@upmc.eduandrcx
Committee MemberFraundorf, Scott Hsfraundo@pitt.edusfraundo
Committee MemberPrice, Rebecca Bpricerb@upmc.edupricerb
Committee ChairHallion, Lauren Shallion@pitt.eduhallion
Date: 10 January 2024
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 10 November 2023
Approval Date: 10 January 2024
Submission Date: 29 November 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 65
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: perseverative thought, uncontrollability, negative valence, anxiety, daily diary
Date Deposited: 10 Jan 2024 14:12
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2024 14:12


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