Depressive Tendencies and Susceptibility to Anxiety: Differential Personality Correlates


  • This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant MHI16080 to Jack Block and Jeanne H. Block. I gratefully acknowledge the helpful comments and guidance of Jack Block, Oliver John, and Brent Roberts.

concerning this article should be addressed to Adam M. Kremen, Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.


Although the constructs of depression and anxiety are conceptually and clinically separable, they have been difficult to separate psychometrically. The present study is an attempt to statistically disentangle the two constructs and to evaluate their differential correlates. A common factor analysis of the items in a depression and an anxiety inventory was conducted using data collected from two samples—208 college students and eighty-seven 18-year-olds participating in the Block Longitudinal Study. In both samples two factors, interpreted as depressive tendencies and susceptibility to anxiety, were found; the factor loadings on each factor were highly correlated across the two samples. No sex differences were found in these factor structures. Factor-based scores comprised of well-differentiating items were computed for participants in the Block sample. Using partial correlation analyses, observer-measured as well as self-report-based personality correlates of the specific variance associated with depressive tendencies and with susceptibility to anxiety, respectively, were contrasted. The results indicated that a strong interpersonal component discernible in depression was less noticeable in anxiety.