Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The current investigation examined the relation between frequency of marijuana use (no history of use, regular low-frequency use, and regular high-frequency use) and anxious and fearful responding to a biological challenge paradigm. Ninety-six participants (mage = 22.60, SD = 9.01, 45 females) were recruited from the greater Burlington, Vermont community and matched on gender, alcohol, and tobacco use. Primary results indicated that frequency of marijuana use was not significantly related to post-challenge panic attack symptoms, interest in returning for another challenge (behavioral avoidance), or changes in anxiety focused on bodily sensations, heart rate, or respiration rate (breaths per minute). Post hoc analyses suggested that, among current users of marijuana, those who were dependent on marijuana had greater panic attack symptoms post-challenge than those who abused marijuana. Further analyses indicated that, among current marijuana users, those who used the drug for coping reasons were significantly more likely to exhibit greater avoidance post-challenge as well as greater panic attack symptoms post-challenge than those who primarily used for other motives. Additionally, greater frequency of marijuana use among current users was related to less avoidance post-challenge. Findings of the investigation are discussed in relation to clarifying which factors of marijuana use may play a role in anxious and fearful responding to bodily sensations.