The Role of Risk Avoidance in Anxiety

Jon K. Maner*, Norman B. Schmidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

120 Scopus citations


Various forms of disinhibitory psychopathology (e.g., substance use disorder) are characterized by a tendency to make overly risky decisions. The current paper reports on data suggesting that, in contrast, anxiety is associated with an exaggerated tendency to engage in risk-avoidant decision making. In a nonclinical sample of university students, trait anxiety was associated with relatively low willingness to take risks, across a range of behavioral contexts. Trait anxiety was also associated with pessimistic risk appraisals (e.g., heightened perceptions of the likelihood and severity of negative outcomes). Furthermore, these associations were apparent while controlling for depression. Additional findings suggest that heightened perceptions of the severity of negative outcomes might mediate the link between trait anxiety and risk avoidance. This research has implications for understanding the role basic risk decision-making processes may play in the nature and treatment of anxiety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-189
Number of pages9
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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