Welcome to Anxiety Studies

Why study anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal response that is necessary to our survival. Anxiety orients us to danger and prepares our bodies to either challenge or escape it. Anxiety can also motivate us to take action, such as when we realize we have an important deadline, and it can give us a bit of a thrill, such as when we ride a roller coaster or play a fast-paced competitive game. Our world would be more dangerous if we were unable to become anxious.

But for some people, anxiety is the norm, not the exception, and their fears make it hard for them to meet family, work, and social obligations. The Anxiety Studies Division seeks to understand anxiety better so we can better help people who suffer from it.

Who are we?

We are full-time faculty members in the University of Waterloo’s Department of Psychology who have a shared interest in understanding the development and persistence of anxiety problems. Currently, the Anxiety Studies Division includes Dr. Christine Purdon and Dr. David Moscovitch, the graduate students they supervise, and the research assistants who work for them. To learn more about us, click here

Anxiety in the news

Read about the cost of not treating anxiety.

Read about the evolution of worry.

Read about the Anxiety Studies Division in a new article by the University of Waterloo's official student newspaper Imprint.

A new article in The Atlantic outlines the different ways that people are affected by social anxiety, and how exposing people to some of their social fears (e.g., having them intentionally commit blunders or mishaps and observe that the effects are typically not as catastrophic as they imagine) can be an important part of treatment for social anxiety.  

Most people have experienced some kind of social blunder (e.g., tripping, spilling coffee). However, people with social anxiety tend to interpret these mishaps as having negative social costs (e.g., ridicule, rejection, embarrassment or shame) and some of our very own research provides insight into why this might be the case. Read on for more information

Read about anxiety and self-sabotage in an interview with Dr. Christine Purdon.

Watch ​Dr. Christine Purdon and her student Brenda Chiang talk about OCD on CTV News.

Read about why OCD is a disorder than cannot be ignored from the New York Times.

Worried about flying? See what Dr. Purdon has to say about how recent plane crashes validate our fears here (clip begins at 9:15).

Our very own, Dr. Christine Purdon, talking about 11 habits of people who never worry.

Check out Col. Chris Hadfield's Ted talk on the role of exposure in overcoming fear and anxiety.

Current studies

We are currently seeking volunteers with symptoms of anxiety to become valued members of our Anxiety Studies Division Participant Pool. You may be eligible to participate. View our current studies page for more information.


To participate in our current on-line survey in order to become eligible for our Participant Pool, please visit the survey page.


Please read our most recent newsletter which provides information on our current studies and two recently published studies.