Date of Award

Summer 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)




Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology

Committee Director

Janice Zeman

Committee Member

Danielle Dallaire

Committee Member

Clifford Hatt

Committee Member

Michelle Kelley

Committee Member

Todd Thrash


The high rate of comorbidity between anxiety and depression in children and adults raises questions concerning whether these disorders are two distinct disorders or a broad, but unitary construct. Clark and Watson's (1991) tripartite model purports that these disorders can be differentiated by two factors, positive affect (PA) and physiological hyperarousal (PH), in which low PA is unique to depression and PH is specific to anxiety. However, little is known about how specific positive emotions or their various facets may be related to depression and anxiety in children. Using 162 elementary and 148 middle school children (49% male, 66% Caucasian), this study examined the relations among different facets (i.e., frequency, intensity, regulation) of three positive emotions (happiness, interest/excitement, and pride) to determine if they differentiate between symptoms of depression and anxiety. Data were analyzed using path analyses that explored gender and age group differences. Consistent with the tripartite model, decreased frequency of positive emotions predicted increased depressive but not anxious symptoms for boys only. Further, frequency variables predicted depression more for older than younger children. Decreased intensity of positive emotions predicted increased depressive but not anxiety symptoms for all groups. Finally, for boys, happiness dysregulation differentiated between anxiety and depression, whereas pride dysregulation did so for girls. Positive emotion dysregulation played a stronger role in anxiety for boys than girls. Regardless of age, happiness dysregulation was the only regulation variable to differentiate between anxiety and depression. Overall, results suggest that examination of specific positive emotions and their facets is worthwhile, as it further illuminates the phenomenology of depression and anxiety in children as a function of age or gender.


A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculties of The College of William and Mary, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology through the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology.


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