Does Worrying Mean Caring Too Much? Interpersonal Prototypicality of Dimensional Worry Controlling for Social Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms

Thane M. Erickson, Michelle G. Newman, Erin C. Siebert, Jessica A. Carlile, Gina M. Scarsella, James L. Abelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Worry, social anxiety, and depressive symptoms are dimensions that have each been linked to heterogeneous problems in interpersonal functioning. However, the relationships between these symptoms and interpersonal difficulties remain unclear given that most studies have examined diagnostic categories, not accounted for symptoms' shared variability due to general distress, and investigated only interpersonal problems (neglecting interpersonal traits, interpersonal goals, social behavior in daily life, and reports of significant others). To address these issues, students (Study 1; N= 282) endorsed symptoms and interpersonal circumplex measures of traits and problems, as well as event-contingent social behaviors during one week of naturalistic daily interactions (N= 184; 7,036 records). Additionally, depressed and anxious patients (N= 47) reported symptoms and interpersonal goals in a dyadic relationship, and significant others rated patients' interpersonal goals and impact (Study 2). We derived hypotheses about prototypical interpersonal features from theories about the functions of particular symptoms and social behaviors. As expected, worry was uniquely associated with prototypically affiliative tendencies across all self-report measures in both samples, but predicted impacting significant others in unaffiliative ways. As also hypothesized, social anxiety was uniquely and prototypically associated with low dominance across measures, and general distress was associated with cold-submissive tendencies. Findings for depressive symptoms provided less consistent evidence for unique prototypical interpersonal features. Overall, results suggest the importance of multimethod assessment and accounting for general distress in interpersonal models of worry, social anxiety, and depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-28
Number of pages15
JournalBehavior Therapy
Volume47
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology

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