What lies beneath trait-anxiety? Testing the Self-regulatory Executive Function Model of Vulnerability
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Vulnerability to psychological disorder can be assessed with constructs such as trait anxiety and neuroticism which among others are transdiagnostic risk factors. However, trait-anxiety and related concepts have been criticised because they don’t illuminate the etiological mechanisms of psychopathology. In contrast, the metacognitive (S-REF) model offers a framework in which metacognitive knowledge conceptualised in trait terms is part of a core mechanism underlying trait-anxiety and related constructs. The present study therefore set out to explore metacognitions as potential underlying factors in trait-anxiety (the propensity to depression and anxiety). Nine hundred and eighty two participants completed self-report measures of metacognitions and trait-anxiety at time 1, and 425 individuals completed the same measures 8 weeks later. At the cross-sectional level, metacognitions accounted for 83% of the variance in anxiety- and 64% of depression propensity. Furthermore, despite both domains of trait-anxiety showing high stability over time, negative- and positive metacognitive beliefs were significant prospective predictors of both domains of vulnerability. These findings suggests that metacognitive beliefs may be an underlying mechanism of vulnerability attributed to trait-anxiety with the implication that the metacognitive (S-REF) model informs conceptualization of psychological vulnerability, and that metacognitive therapy applications might be employed to enhance psychological resilience.