Personal Strivings to Understand Anxiety Disorders: Social Anxiety as an Exemplar
People with anxiety disorders tend to make decisions on the basis of avoiding threat rather than obtaining rewards. Despite a robust literature examining approach-avoidance motivation, less is known about goal pursuit. The present study examined the content, motives, consequences, and daily correlates of strivings among adults diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and healthy controls. Participants generated six strivings along with the motives and consequences of their pursuit. Compared with controls, people with social anxiety disorder were less strongly driven by autonomous motives and reported greater difficulty pursuing strivings. Coders analyzed strivings for the presence of 10 themes: achievement, affiliation, avoidance, emotion regulation, generativity, interpersonal, intimacy, power, self-presentation, and self-sufficiency. People with social anxiety disorder constructed more emotion regulation strivings than did controls, but they did not differ across other themes. This research illustrates how studying personality at different levels of analysis (traits, strivings) can yield novel information for understanding anxiety disorders.
Goodman, FR; Kashdan, TB; Stiksma, MC; Blalock, DV
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