• A measure of cognitive vulnerability : development and validation of the Anxiety Attitude and Belief Scale [PhD Thesis]

      Solveig E. Jónsdóttir (2008-07)
      The cognitive model of emotional disorders has inspired considerable research effort, much of it self-report and questionnaire-based. This methodological focus has been criticized on several grounds and poses a challenge for those attempting to index relevant cognitive constructs. The aim of the study described here is to further develop and validate the Anxiety Attitude and Belief Scale-Revised (AABS-R). The measure was designed to index attitudes and beliefs that may represent a cognitive vulnerability to anxiety problems. The development of the scale involved an emphasis on avoiding confounding with affect, thus averting some of the criticisms of self-report cognitive measures. First, construct validation through cognitive interviewing was undertaken. Four undergraduate students completed 53 questions on the AABS-R while thinking aloud. The ensuing verbal protocols were coded by a blind rater according to the specific cognitive processes participants engaged in. Results indicated that items generally tap into cognitive rather than affective processes. Subsequently, the reliability, psychometric properties and validity of the scale were investigated in an online anxiety disorder support group and student sample. Participants (N = 346) completed an online battery of tests, which included the AABS-R as well as criterion measures. Exploratory factor analyses suggested the existence of five factors, which index domains of theoretical interest. The final 33-item measure total and factor scores demonstrated adequate internal consistency. A correlational analysis was consistent with convergent, but only partly with the discriminant validity of the AABS-33. As predicted, the AABS-33 appears to be a reliable, valid and potentially clinically useful index of anxiety vulnerability, which may overcome the shortcomings of well-established anxiety measures. The findings are discussed within the broader literature on cognitive theory and its’ operationalization, ‘transdiagnostic processes’ and notions of validity.