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Working Students

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Anxiety Sensitivity and Risk-Taking Behaviors of Working Students

Research Paper

In Partial Fulfillment for the Requirements in Technical English

By:
Alnas, Kyle Bryan J.
Balisacan, Meashelle Jan P.
Sato, Shomi P.

Chapter 2
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

This chapter presents the literature and studies made by various educators which are found relevant to the present study.
Relevant, related literatures were reviewed and analyzed to give support to the study undertaken. This chapter presents the discussion made by the different authorities which served as the backbone of the present research inquiry.

Anxiety Sensitivity and Risk Taking Behavior

Risk-taking refers to participation in behaviors that could lead to an undesirable or dangerous outcome (Byrnes, Miller & Schafer, 1999). Although risk-taking can be adaptive when the benefits of a behavior outweigh the costs or are more probable than the undesirable outcome, it can also be maladaptive when the opposite is true. Reason and judgment are used when assessing risk to determine if the potential gain of a behavior outweighs potential loss (Kahneman, 2003), and research suggests that personality and individual difference variables influence risk perception and risk taking behavior. (Dewberry, Juanchich & Narendran, 2013; Kozhevnikov, 2007). Studies have shown that the Big-5 personality factors (i.e., openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism) exhibit different relationships with risk-preference. For example, individuals high in neuroticism tend to overestimate the probability of negative outcomes and are thus conservative in risk-taking (Peng, Xiao, Yang, Wu & Miao, 2014).
Research also suggests that emotions can have a significant impact on risk-perception and risky behaviors (Loewenstein, Weber, Hsee, & Welch, 2001). Early research on the relation between emotion and risk-taking behaviors primarily focused on broad positive and negative affective states. Positive affect involves the experience of positive emotions (e.g., enthusiasm, confidence) and negative affect involves the experience of negative emotions (e.g., anger, guilt). Research indicates that negative affective states may be differentially linked to risk-taking behaviors, with emotions associated with high levels of arousal (e.g., anger, embarrassment) leading to increased preference for risk-taking (Leith & Baumeister, 1996) and emotions accompanied by low levels of arousal being linked to decreased preference for risk-taking (Mano, 1992). However, subsequent research has raised questions regarding the link between risk taking and emotional arousal. Specifically, research has indicated that fear and anger are both arousal inducing emotions, though fear is associated with risk aversive decision making while anger is associated with risky decision making and risk-seeking behaviors (Lerner & Keltner, 2001). Thus, research has begun to focus on the association between specific emotions and risk-taking.

The Effect of Anxiety on Risk-Taking

Anxiety is one form of negative affect that has been associated with specific patterns of risk-taking behaviors. Research suggests that anxious individuals generally focus on the negative aspects of situations and report increased perception of negative outcomes. In one study using a visual probe task, highly anxious individuals were faster to respond to threatening stimuli, suggesting that they attend to a situation’s threatening cues more than non-anxious individuals (Mogg & Bradley, 2002). Research also suggests that anxiety is linked with pessimistic risk appraisal, or viewing a situation with higher perceptions of a negative outcome occurring, which then leads to decision making favoring risk-aversion (Maner & Schmidt, 2006). Thus, individuals with higher levels of neuroticism or trait anxiety may be more prone to exhibit risk averse decision making.
Several studies serve to illustrate the exclusive link between risk-aversion and anxiety. For example, Maner and colleagues (2007) found that individuals with anxiety disorders exhibited greater risk-avoidance than patients who had mood disorders (e.g., major depressive disorder, bipolar) and non-clinical controls. In another study, patients who met criteria for generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder made significantly fewer riskydecisions as compared to non-anxious control participants on a gambling task (Giorgetta et al., 2012).
Although risk-avoidance appears to be specific to anxiety when compared to nonclinical and clinical patients, little is known about the facets of anxiety that are contributing to this association. Anxiety sensitivity, or AS, can be broadly defined as the fear of sensations commonly associated with anxiety due to believing that these sensations can lead to negative physical, cognitive, or social consequences (Reiss & McNally, 1985). For example, a person with high AS may fear an increased heart rate because they believe that it will increase their risk for a heart attack. Research has consistently revealed that high AS predicts the subsequent development of panic attacks and other anxiety disorders (Li & Zinbarg, 2007; Maller & Reiss, 1992; Schmidt, Lerew & Jackson, 1997), and individuals with high AS exhibit many of the same cognitive biases as individuals with anxiety disorders. For example, similar to individuals with anxiety disorders (Mogg & Bradley, 2002), individuals with high AS demonstrate attention biases for threatening cues, are more likely to interpret ambiguous events in a threatening manner, and exhibit higher levels of avoidance in ambiguous situations compared to low AS individuals (Lilley & Cobham, 2005). Individuals with high anxiety sensitivity also exhibit a memory bias for anxietyrelated information (McNally, Foa, & Donnell, 1989), and are more likely to interpret normal physiological sensations as potentially harmful (Pollock, Carter, Amir & Marks, 2006).
Research has shown individuals with high AS tend to employ threat avoidant decision making strategies in an effort to minimize exposure to heightened physiological stimulation (Wilson & Hayward, 2006). For example, studies suggest that individuals with high AS are less likely to engage in physical exercise (Moshier et al., 2014; McWilliams & Asmundson, 2001) or respond to an aggressive attack with aggression (Broman-Fulks, Berman & McClusky, 2007). However, relatively little is known regarding the relation between AS and risk-taking. Given that risk-taking behaviors often generate increased physiological arousal, it is possible that individuals with high AS may be motivated to minimize risk engagement.
To date, only one study has directly examined the relation between AS and risktaking. Broman-Fulks and colleagues (2014) found that individuals with high AS reported engaging in significantly fewer gambling behaviors than those with low AS. In addition, high AS participants selected significantly fewer cards from high risk decks on the Iowa Gambling Task than low AS participants. However, as this study only examined the relation between AS and gambling behaviors, it is unclear the extent to which their results generalize to other risk-taking behaviors.
The purpose of the present study was to extend previous research by examining the relation between AS and self-reported risk-perception and risk-taking behaviors. Based on previous research suggesting that individuals with high AS tend to perceive higher levels of threat in ambiguous situations, it was hypothesized that high AS would be associated with increased risk perception. In addition, given previous research suggesting that individuals with high AS exhibit decision-making strategies aimed at minimizing exposure to physiological arousal, it was hypothesized that AS would be negatively associated with risk taking behaviors.…...

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