Category: Adult Anxiety
Intolerance of Ambiguity (IA) has been defined as refers to the ability to withstand vague situations and stimuli that can be interpreted in more than one way (Furnham & Ribchester, 1995). Research related to a recently proposed hierarchical model of distress tolerance (DT) suggests IA is one of five distinct lower order factors under the higher order factor of DT, in addition to intolerance of uncertainty, frustration, emotional distress, and physical discomfort (Bardeen, Fergus, and Orcutt, 2013; Zvolensky et al., 2010). Previous research has suggested that IA is a unique predictor of anxiety-related vulnerabilities such as worry and cognitive avoidance (Leyro, Zvolensky, and Bernstein, 2010). The Multiple Stimulus Types Ambiguity Test (MSTAT) is one common tool used to measure of IA (McLain, 1993). The current study sought to further the current understanding of IA by examining the incremental predictive validity of IA for various anxiety disorders above and beyond the other components of Zvolensky’s hierarchical model of DT. Participants in this study were approximately 300 individuals who were recruited via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service to complete a series of measures corresponding to each component of the hierarchical model as well as several commonly used measures of anxiety disorders. Specifically, participants completed the Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale, Multiple Stimulus Types Ambiguity Tolerance Scale, Distress Tolerance Scale, Discomfort Intolerance Scale, Frustration Distress Scale, Panic Disorder Severity Scale, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist, Obsessive Compulsive Index-Revised, Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7, and the Social Phobia Inventory. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted by entering IUS, DTS, DIS, and FDS scores in step 1 and MSTAT scores in step 2. Results suggested that IA as measured by the MSTAT failed to add significant predictive validity above and beyond the other factors for generalized anxiety disorder (p = .768), panic disorder (p = .562), posttraumatic stress disorder (p = .835), and obsessive compulsive disorder (p = .471). However, it did add additional predictive validity for social anxiety disorder (p = .006). These findings are inconsistent with previous research suggesting that IA is a unique predictor of anxiety disorders above and beyond the other facets of DT. The implications of these findings in the context of distress tolerance will be discussed as well as future directions for research.