A network perspective on real-life threat, anxiety, and avoidance

Valentina M. Glück, Paula Engelke, Kirsten Hilger, Alex H.K. Wong, Juliane M. Boschet, Andre Pittig*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Anxiety, approach, and avoidance motivation crucially influence mental and physical health, especially when environments are stressful. The interplay between anxiety and behavioral motivation is modulated by multiple individual factors. This proof-of-concept study applies graph-theoretical network analysis to explore complex associations between self-reported trait anxiety, approach and avoidance motivation, situational anxiety, stress symptoms, perceived threat, perceived positive consequences of approach, and self-reported avoidance behavior in real-life threat situations. '


A total of 436 participants who were matched on age and gender (218 psychotherapy patients, 218 online-recruited nonpatients) completed an online survey assessing these factors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Results and Discussion

The resulting cross-sectional psychological network revealed a complex pattern with multiple positive (e.g., between trait anxiety, avoidance motivation, and avoidance behavior) and negative associations (e.g., between approach and avoidance motivation). The patient and online subsample networks did not differ significantly, however, descriptive differences may inform future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Kristina Schneider, Julian Koch, and Naja Kärcher for their help with data collection and Christopher David for his help in reference management. This work was funded in part by a scholarship by the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes [German National Academic Foundation] (Engelke). Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Clinical Psychology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.

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