STAI-Anxiety and STAI-Depression Revisited

du Rocher, Andrew R. and Pickering, Alan. 2022. STAI-Anxiety and STAI-Depression Revisited. Journal of Individual Differences, 43(4), pp. 206-215. ISSN 1614-0001 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) is widely used to measure anxiety in academic, psychiatric, and medical settings. However, it has been proposed that the trait scale does not measure pure anxiety but contains subscales that measure either anxiety or depression. As this may have implications for the interpretation of research, we investigated the differential correlates of these two subscales. Participants (N = 171; Mage = 23.6 years) completed measures of attentional control (attentional focusing; attentional shifting), behavioral approach sensitivity (BAS), trait anger, and interpersonal fear. STAI-anxiety was predicted by interpersonal fear, and trait anger when STAI-depression was held constant. By contrast, STAI-depression was predicted by BAS and attentional shifting when STAI-anxiety was held constant. To further illustrate the functional significance of these results, we reanalyzed a published study that originally showed that total STAI scores predicted affective cognitive control in the emotional face Stroop task. Results showed that STAI-anxiety and STAI-depression differentially predicted the cognitive control of distraction. The significance of our results is discussed in relation to interpreting the STAI in academic and neuropsychiatric/clinical settings.

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This work was funded by Goldsmiths, University of London.


STAI-Anxiety, STAI-Depression, attention, affective traits

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24 May 2022Published Online
October 2022Published

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Date Deposited:

20 Jun 2022 13:38

Last Modified:

24 Nov 2022 11:31

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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