Association between interpretation flexibility and emotional health in an anxious sample: The challenge of measuring flexible adoption of multiple perspectives

Julie L. Ji, Elske Salemink, Bethany A. Teachman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Interpreting ambiguous situations in a rigidly negative manner contributes to emotional disorders. Although negative interpretation biases have been well studied in relation to anxiety and depression, the relationship between interpretation flexibility (vs. rigidity) and emotional health remains understudied. The present study is a secondary analysis to test the hypothesis that higher interpretation flexibility is associated with better emotional health, as indicated by lower anxiety and depression levels, and higher quality of life. Here, interpretation flexibility focuses specifically on the ability to recognize multiple possible interpretations within and across ambiguous situations. Using baseline data from N = 939 high trait-anxious community participants who enrolled in an online anxiety intervention, multiple ways of computing interpretation flexibility were applied to help the field learn how different operationalizations can lead to varied conclusions about the connection between interpretation flexibility and emotional health. Using two measures of interpretation style, four approaches (some pre-registered, some exploratory) to computing interpretation flexibility were tested using an internal replication analytic approach. Results varied across type of approach, but in general, contrary to hypotheses, results indicated that higher interpretation flexibility was either unrelated to, or associated with higher, anxiety, and depression, and lower quality of life.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychopathology
Volume15
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024

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