Testing a tripartite model: II. Exploring the symptom structure of anxiety and depression in student, adult, and patient samples

J Abnorm Psychol. 1995 Feb;104(1):15-25. doi: 10.1037//0021-843x.104.1.15.


L. A. Clark and D. Watson (1991) proposed a tripartite model of depression and anxiety that divides symptoms into 3 groups: symptoms of general distress that are largely nonspecific, manifestations of anhedonia and low positive affect that are specific to depression, and symptoms of somatic arousal that are relatively unique to anxiety. This model was tested by conducting separate factor analyses of the 90 items in the Mood and Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire (D. Watson & L. A. Clark, 1991) in 5 samples (3 student, 1 adult, 1 patient). The same 3 factors (General Distress, Anhedonia vs. Positive Affect, Somatic Anxiety) emerged in each data set, suggesting that the symptom structure in this domain is highly convergent across diverse samples. Moreover, these factors broadly corresponded to the symptom groups proposed by the tripartite model. Inspection of the individual item loadings suggested some refinements to the model.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Arousal
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Psychological Tests*
  • Reproducibility of Results*
  • Students / psychology*