Anxiety and Ambiguity: It’s All Open to Interpretation

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Beck’s (1976) theoretical account of emotional vulnerability predicts that individuals who are vulnerable to anxiety will exhibit a cognitive processing bias for the threatening interpretation of ambiguous information. As anxiety direction (Jones, 1995) may best account for individual differences, the aim of this study was to establish whether such processing bias is a function of anxiety interpretation. Anxiety facilitators and debilitators underwent a modified Stroop test by reacting to neutral and ambiguous word types in neutral, positive, and negative mood conditions. A significant 3-way interaction, F(4, 60) = 3.02, p < .05, was evident, with the reaction time of facilitators being slowest for ambiguous words in the positive mood condition and debilitators being slowest for ambiguous words in the negative mood condition. The findings illustrate the important role that anxiety interpretation plays in the mechanism involved in the processing of ambiguous information.

M. Eubank, Research Institute for Sport & Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores Univ., Liverpool, L3 2ET, U.K.; D. Collins, PE, Sport & Leisure Studies, Moray House Institute of Education, Univ. of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 8AQ, Scotland; N. Smith, Exercise & Sport Science, Manchester Metropolitan Univ., Manchester ST7 2HL, U.K.

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