The relationships of anxiety sensitivity and youth irritability: the mediated roles of insomnia and selective attention for threat

Published: 26 May 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/yxbmj2b4jw.1
Fulei Geng


Background: Irritability is common in multiple psychiatric disorders and is hallmark of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. Child irritability is associated with higher risk of suicide and adulthood mental health problems. However, the psychological mechanisms of irritability are understudied. This study examined the relationship between anxiety sensitivity and irritability among youth, and further explored three possible mediated factors: selective attention for threat, delayed reward discounting, and insomnia. Methods: Participants were 1417 students (51.7% male; mean age 13.83 years, SD = 1.48) recruited from one high school in Hunan province, China. Self-report questionnaires were used to measure irritability, anxiety sensitivity, selective attention for threat, insomnia, and delayed reward discounting. Structural equation modal (SEM) was performed to examine mediated relations and further explore possible moderate effects of sex and age. Results: Anxiety sensitivity was modestly related to irritability and insomnia (r from 0.25 to 0.54) and slightly correlated with selective attention for threat (r from 0.12 to 0.28). However, there is no significant relationship of delayed rewards discounting with anxiety sensitivity and irritability. The results of SEM showed that selective attention for threat (indirect effect estimate = 0.04) and insomnia (indirect effect estimate = 0.20) partially mediate the relationship between anxiety sensitivity and irritability, which explained 33% variation. Compared to females, the indirect effect of insomnia is stronger in males. Conclusions: Anxiety sensitivity is an important susceptibility factor for irritability. Selective attention for threat and insomnia are two mediated mechanisms to understand the relationship between anxiety sensitivity and irritability.


Steps to reproduce

SPSS 21.0 Mplus 7.4


Jiangxi Normal University


Clinical Psychology, Youth, Clinical Psychiatry


National Natural Science Foundation of China