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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1986 Sep;51(3):640-8.

The interactional model of anxiety: an evaluation of the differential hypothesis.


The interactional model of anxiety states that individuals who score high on trait anxiety measure for a specific situation dimension will respond with elevated state anxiety only in reaction to encounters with congruent situations. We tested this model by presenting subjects who scored high or low on ego threat, physical danger, novelty ambiguity, and daily routine trait measures with stressors representative of the four situation dimensions. The interactional model was partially supported for ego threat trait anxiety. However, results generally supported the influence of situation rather than the trait or interaction on anxiety response. The lack of trait factor independence for the novelty ambiguity and daily routine trait dimensions is discussed as a potential reason for the nonsupport of the interactional model. Finally, we suggest that the experimental design used in this study is a more accurate and vigorous test of the differential hypothesis than past research.

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