Categorical or dimensional: A reanalysis of the anxiety sensitivity construct
Anxiety sensitivity, or the fear of anxiety sensations, has been implicated in the etiology of anxiety disorders, particularly panic disorder. Recently, inconsistent findings have been reported regarding the latent structure of anxiety sensitivity. Whereas some taxometric studies of anxiety sensitivity have reported evidence of categorical latent structure, others have found evidence of a latent dimension. The purpose of the present research was to further examine the latent structure of anxiety sensitivity using taxometric procedures and commonly utilized measures of anxiety sensitivity. To this end, three mathematically independent taxometric procedures (MAXEIG, MAMBAC, and L-Mode) were applied to data collected from two large nonclinical samples (n's. =1,171 and 2,173) that completed the Anxiety Sensitivity Index and the Anxiety Sensitivity Index-Revised. Results from both studies converged in support of a dimensional conceptualization of anxiety sensitivity. A third study was conducted using indicators derived from the newly revised Anxiety Sensitivity Index-3 in a separate sample of 1,462 nonclinical participants. Results of these analyses provided further support for a dimensional anxiety sensitivity solution. The implications of these results for anxiety sensitivity research are discussed, and several potential directions for future research are considered.