E. Tory Higgins

Regulatory focus and anxiety: A self-regulatory model of GAD-Depression comorbidity

Coauthor(s): Megan Klenk, Timothy Strauman. View Publication


The etiology of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), including its high degree of comorbidity with major depressive disorder (MDD), remains a conceptual and clinical challenge. In this article, we discuss the relevance of regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1997), an increasingly influential theory of self-regulation, for generating and testing hypotheses regarding vulnerability to GAD as well as to GAD/MDD comorbidity. The theory postulates two cognitive/motivational systems for pursuing desired end states: the promotion and prevention systems. Drawing upon studies in social and personality psychology documenting the affective and motivational consequences of failing to attain promotion versus prevention goals, as well as the literature linking promotion failure with depression, we propose how dysfunction within the prevention system could lead to GAD – with, as well as without, MDD. Finally, we discuss implications of this emerging self-regulation model for treatment and for future research

Source: Personality and Individual Differences
Exact Citation:
Klenk, Megan, Timothy Strauman, and E. Tory Higgins. "Regulatory focus and anxiety: A self-regulatory model of GAD-Depression comorbidity." Personality and Individual Differences 50, no. 7 (May 2011): 935-943.
Volume: 50
Number: 7
Pages: 935-943
Date: 5 2011