Are Metacognitive Beliefs an Underlying Mechanism of Trait Anxiety?

Trait-Anxiety, Neuroticism and negative affect are constructs that have been associated with psychopathology and psychological vulnerability (i.e. risk factors for developing psychological disorder). However, these risk factors have been criticized as they do not provide information on the underlying mechanisms of psychological disorder. 

Nordahl, Hjemdal, Hagen, Nordahl & Wells (2019) evaluated metacognitive beliefs as potential underlying factors in trait anxiety (the tendency to develop anxiety and depression). 982 participants completed a questionnaire battery across at baseline and again 8 weeks later. 

Metacognitions accounted for 83% of the variance in anxiety and 64% of depression propensity. In addition, negative and positive metacognitive beliefs were significant predictors of both domains of vulnerability. The results highlight that metacognitive beliefs may be an underlying mechanism of vulnerability (trait-anxiety). Metacognitive therapy applications might be employed to enhance psychological resilience.

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