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Behav Res Ther. 2003 Apr;41(4):403-11.

Emotional avoidance: an experimental test of individual differences and response suppression using biological challenge.

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The University of Vermont, Department of Psychology, Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory, John Dewey Hall, Burlington 05405 0134, USA.


The present study examined the affective consequences of response inhibition during a state of anxiety-related physical stress. Forty-eight non-clinical participants were selected on the basis of pre-experimental differences in emotional avoidance (high versus low) and subjected to four inhalations of 20% carbon dioxide-enriched air. Half of the participants were instructed to inhibit the challenge-induced aversive emotional state, whereas the other half was instructed to simply observe their emotional response. Participants high in emotional avoidance compared to those low in emotional avoidance responded with greater levels of anxiety and affective distress but not physiological arousal. Individuals high in emotional avoidance also reported greater levels of anxiety relative to the low emotional avoidance group when suppressing compared to observing bodily sensations. These findings are discussed in terms of the significance of emotional avoidance processes during physical stress, with implications for better understanding the nature of panic disorder.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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