Negative sentiment override (NSO), or messages and experiences interpreted in an increasingly negative manner, is one way to explain dissatisfaction in romantic relationships. In addition, psychological factors, like anxiety, have been shown to increase levels of dissatisfaction. In the current study, we examined the extent that significant anxiety, determined by responses to the Symptom Checklist–90, influenced the endorsement of items on Gottman’s NSO scale. We examined the item characteristic curves (ICCs) of the individual items on Gottman’s NSO scale and then tested for differential item functioning between those with significant anxiety and those without significant anxiety for a sample of 262 individuals seeking counseling. Our results demonstrate different ICC patterns between those with anxiety and those without. More specifically, individuals with anxiety reported elevated NSO compared to individuals without anxiety. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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