Physiological hyperarousal: Construct validity of a central aspect of the tripartite model of depression and anxiety


Physiological hyperarousal (PH) is an understudied component of the tripartite model of depression and anxiety. This study contributes to the literature on PH, the tripartite model, and anxiety and its disorders, using data from psychotherapy outpatients (n = 2,448), air force cadets (n = 1,335), and undergraduates (n = 284). Psychometrics and exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses showed that PH is a reliable, cohesive, discriminable, and valid construct. Compared with subjective anxiety, PH was more associated to panic versus mood disordered status, and to panic versus generalized anxiety disordered status. As hypothesized, an aspect of anxiety sensitivity (i.e., fear of body sensations) was particularly related to subjective anxiety in the presence of PH. Results support the PH construct as replicable, valid, and clinically important and support the utility of the tripartite and related models for understanding the relation of depressive and anxious syndromes.

Publication Title

Journal of Abnormal Psychology