DETERMINANTS AND BEHAVIORAL CORRELATES OF STATE-LEVEL ANXIETY IN CLINICAL COUPLE INTERACTIONS

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2005-08-19

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Extant research demonstrated that clinically diagnosable disorders such as depression and anxiety have detrimental effects on dyadic satisfaction in couple relationships, but studies have focused almost exclusively on trait-level emotional responses. Consequently, little is known about state-level emotional responses, including factors influencing negative emotional states during couple interactions, and associations between emotional states and the partners' subsequent communication behavior. This study investigated the associations between: (a) each partner's attachment security and negative attributions about the other's malicious intent for them; (b) the degree of state-level anxiety partners experience immediately before engaging in a discussion about a conflictual relationship issue; and (c) partners' use of constructive and destructive behaviors during the discussion. State-level anxiety mediated the relationship between partners' pre-existing attachment security and negative attributions about the partner and each partner's use of constructive and destructive communication. Implications for clinical assessment and intervention with state-level anxiety responses in distressed couples are discussed.

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