A taxometric investigation of the latent structure of worry

Ayelet Meron Ruscio, Pennsylvania State University
T. D. Borkovec, Pennsylvania State University
John Ruscio, Elizabethtown College


Researchers have described 2 types of worriers, normal and pathological, who differ in the frequency, intensity, and controllability of their worry experiences. Although normal and pathological worry are generally treated as separate though related phenomena, no study has tested for separateness against the alternative hypothesis that all worry exists along a single dimension. In the present study, worry ratings of 1,588 college students were submitted to taxometric procedures designed to evaluate latent structure. Results provided evidence for the dimensionality of worry. These findings suggest that generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), whose central feature is worry, may also be quantitatively rather than qualitatively different from normal functioning. The authors argue that a focus on normal and pathological extremes has constrained the study of worry phenomena and that dimensional conceptualization of worry may significantly enhance understanding of both worry and GAD.