Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Shannon Sauer-Zavala


Neuroticism is defined as the tendency to experience frequent and intense negative emotions accompanied by the belief that one could not cope adequately in response to stress. Neuroticism is associated with the development and maintenance of a range of emotional disorders (e.g., anxiety disorders, depression) and targeting this trait in treatment (rather than symptoms) may represent a more efficient approach to care. However, researchers have rarely measured neuroticism and symptoms frequently enough to establish temporal precedence between these dimensions. The present study is a secondary analysis that examined the temporal relationship between neuroticism and anxiety and depressive symptoms during a clinical trial of the Unified Protocol (UP), a treatment developed to address neuroticism. Participants (N = 38) meeting DSM-5 criteria for a primary emotional disorder completed six weekly sessions of the UP. We hypothesized that treatment with the UP will result in significant reductions in neuroticism and that changes in neuroticism would precede and predict changes in anxiety and depressive symptoms. Results suggest that within-person session-to-session changes in neuroticism precede and predict next session anxiety, but not depression. These findings add to the limited research assessing the temporal relationship between personality change and symptom change.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)