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Behav Res Ther. 2015 Nov;74:11-7. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2015.08.009. Epub 2015 Aug 31.

Anxiety sensitivity moderates behavioral avoidance in anxious youth.

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Yale University Child Study Center, 230 S. Frontage Rd., New Haven, CT 06519, USA. Electronic address:
Yale University Child Study Center, 230 S. Frontage Rd., New Haven, CT 06519, USA.


Individuals who are high in anxiety sensitivity (AS) are motivated to avoid sensations of anxiety. Consequently, AS is hypothesized to contribute to overall avoidance of any feared stimuli. No studies have yet examined whether fear of a stimulus is a stronger predictor of behavioral avoidance in individuals who are high in AS compared to individuals who are low in AS. We examined whether AS moderates the association between fear of spiders and behavioral avoidance of spider stimuli in 50 clinically anxious youth. Fear of spiders significantly predicted avoidance of spider stimuli in youth high in AS but not in youth low in AS. These results provide support for the role of AS in avoidant behavior and help to explain the link between AS and the anxiety disorders. The results have implications for exposure-based anxiety treatments and highlight the importance of increasing anxious patients' ability to tolerate sensations of anxiety.


Anxiety; Anxiety disorders; Anxiety sensitivity; Avoidance; Cognitive behavior therapy; Exposure; Fear

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