Vicarious anxiety: A systematic evaluation of a vicarious threat to self-esteem

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Abstract

Investigated in 3 studies, Ss' state anxiety arousal in response to an in vivo vicarious threat to self-esteem. In Studies 1 and 2, a total of 70 undergraduates were exposed to a guest speaker who provided the anxiety manipulation. All Ss completed R. Hogan's empathy scale (see record 1969-12966-001), the Adult Norwicki-Strickland Internal-External Control Scale, and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. In addition, Ss in Study 2 also completed the Defense Mechanism Inventory. Inboth Studies, correlation and median split analyses indicated that high empathic and low trait anxious Ss reported elevated state anxiety in response to the vicarious threat. When Ss were matched on initial state anxiety, high empathy Ss were found to have experienced vicarious anxiety, whereas Ss low on empathy did not. In addition to replicating Study 1, Study 2 found that the Helplessness factor of locus of control was significantly negatively related to empathy, and the cognitive reappraisal styles of reversal (denial, reaction formation) and projection were related to state anxiety decreases. Study 3 with 14 undergraduates provided evidence for the absence of a confound. (36 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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