Emotional rigidity negatively impacts remission from anxiety and recovery of well-being

J Affect Disord. 2018 Aug 15;236:69-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.04.113. Epub 2018 Apr 24.


Objectives: Emotional rigidity is described in clinical literature as a significant barrier to recovery; however, few there are few empirical measures of the construct. The current study had two aims: Study 1 aimed to identify latent factors that may bear on the construct of emotional rigidity while Study 2 assessed the potential impact of the latent factor(s) on anxiety remission rates and well-being.

Method: This study utilized data from 2472 adult inpatients (1176 females and 1296 males) with severe psychopathology. Study 1 utilized exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to identify latent factors of emotional rigidity. Study 2 utilized hierarchical logistic regression analyses to assess the relationships among emotional rigidity factors and anxiety remission and well-being recovery at discharge.

Results: Study 1 yielded a two-factor solution identified in EFA was confirmed with CFA. Factor 1 consisted of neuroticism, experiential avoidance, non-acceptance of emotions, impaired goal-directed behavior, impulse control difficulties and limited access to emotion regulation strategies when experiencing negative emotions. Factor 2 consisted of lack of emotional awareness and lack of emotional clarity when experiencing negative emotions. Results of Study 2 indicated higher scores on Factor 1 was associated with lower remission rates from anxiety and poorer well-being upon discharge. Factor 2 was not predictive of outcome.

Conclusions: Emotional rigidity appears to be a latent construct that negatively impacts remission rates from anxiety. Limitations of the present study include its retrospective design, and inefficient methods of assessing emotional rigidity.

Keywords: Anxiety; Emotional rigidity; Treatment outcomes; Well-being.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Emotions*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology*
  • Male
  • Personality*
  • Psychopathology
  • Remission Induction
  • Retrospective Studies