What is State anxiety and Trait anxiety?

State Anxiety = Right now! – Varies depending on your perceptions of threats in a situation

Trait Anxiety = How you usually feel – Part of someone’s personality

State Anxiety: State anxiety describes the experience of unpleasant feelings when confronted with specific situations, demands or a particular object or event. State anxiety arises when the person makes a mental assessment of some type of threat. When the object or situation that is perceived as threatening goes away, the person no longer experiences anxiety. Thus, state anxiety refers to a temporary condition in response to some perceived threat.

Trait Anxiety: Like state anxiety, trait anxiety arises in response to a perceived threat, but it differs in its intensity, duration and the range of situations in which it occurs. Trait anxiety refers to the differences between people in terms of their tendency to experience state anxiety in response to the anticipation of a threat. People with a high level of trait anxiety experience more intense degrees of state anxiety to specific situations than most people do and experience anxiety toward a broader range of situations or objects than most people. Thus, trait anxiety describes a personality characteristic rather than a temporary feeling.


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