Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: October 03, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412956253 | Print ISBN: 9781412916707 | Online ISBN: 9781412956253| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Robert M. Arkin & Lana Rucks
Anxiety is an unpleasant emotional state, characterized by tension, apprehension, and worry. It occurs in response to a perceived threat, which in the case of fear is fairly specific and identifiable (e.g., seeing a snake) but in the case of anxiety tends to be vague and suspenseful (e.g., giving a speech). It is a defensive response, one that signals danger and, like other emotions, is thought to have an important function related to survival. In the social arena, the threat is the perceived potential harm to one's self-esteem, self-worth, or self-concept. The anxiety can be domain specific (e.g., text anxiety, public speaking anxiety). Anxiety can help an individual identify a negative event and cope with it; if excessive or uncontrollable, however, anxiety is maladaptive. The concept of anxiety has a long and revered history in psychology, beginning at least with Sigmund Freud who offered one early conceptualization. He saw anxiety ...