Within-person variability in state anxiety across adulthood: Magnitude and associations with between-person correlates

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adult lifespan; emotion; intraindividual variability; mood


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Across domains of functioning, research has shown substantial within-person variability in a number of different types of variables from one measurement occasion to another. Using data obtained from a large sample (n = 784, 18–97 years) at three separate occasions, we examined properties and correlates of short-term variability in a construct that by definition is prone to fluctuations, namely state anxiety. Our results revealed that participants exhibited sizeable across-occasion variation in state anxiety. The magnitude of variability was unrelated to age, but was associated with a number of individual difference characteristics such as self-reported health, aspects of personality, well-being, and cognition. However, after taking into account mean-level differences in state anxiety, evidence for unique associations of variability was minimal.

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