Category: Adult Anxiety

PS2- #A19 - The Relationship Between Cultural Self-Construal and Anxiety Symptoms: A Network Analysis

Friday, Nov 17
9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Anxiety | Cultural Diversity/ Vulnerable Populations

Self-construal (i.e., an individual’s set of beliefs concerning the relation between self and other) has an impact on how individuals view themselves and interact with others (Singelis, 1994). Self-construal is defined by two dimensions: Interdependence (i.e., an identification with how one is connected to groups) and independence (i.e., an identification with how one is unique and separate from groups; Singelis, 1994). An interdependent versus independent self-construal across cultures is associated with differences in rates of symptoms of anxiety, with interdependent self-construal related to greater symptoms of anxiety, while independent self-construal is related to lower anxiety (Essau et al., 2011). Network analysis is used to identify core symptoms that maintain mental disorders (Boorsboom & Cramer, 2013) and can elucidate relationships between symptoms of mental disorders and cultural factors that may act as risk or protective factors for negative mental health outcomes. The present study examined the relationship between independent and interdependent self-construal and symptoms of anxiety using network analysis. Self-construal and anxiety were measured in a sample consisting of diverse undergraduate students (N = 270). Two glasso networks were constructed: (a) a network using the anxiety items and the two self-construal subscales (i.e., independence and interdependence) to test the impact of self-construal overall and (b) a full network using the anxiety items and the 24 self-construal items to test if specific aspects of self-construal were driving the relationship between anxiety and self-construal. Centrality indices were calculated to identify core features of the network. In the first network, independent self-construal was more central than interdependent self-construal. Feelings of overwhelming difficulties, excessive worry, and unimportant thoughts were also central. In the second network, group harmony importance (interdependence), lively imagination importance (independent), concern with self-reliance (independent), and personal identity importance (independent) were central aspects of self-construal, while tension from thoughts of recent concerns was a central anxiety symptom. The findings suggest that specific aspects of self-construal may serve as risk factors for symptoms of anxiety. For example, individuals concerned about group harmony may have increased anxiety because of concerns with fitting in with a group. Network analysis may be helpful for highlighting aspects of culture, such as self-construal, that could be used to tailor culturally informed interventions to the specifics of an individual’s cultural identity.

Benjamin J. Calebs

University of Louisville

Cheri A. Levinson

Assistant Professor
The University of Louisville