Computational methods are increasingly being applied to the study of psychiatric disorders. Often, this involves fitting models to the behavior of individuals with subclinical character traits which are known vulnerability factors for the development of psychiatric conditions. Anxiety disorders can be examined with reference to the behavior of individuals high in ‘trait’ anxiety, which is a known vulnerability factor for the development of anxiety and mood disorders. However, it is not clear how this self-report measure relates to neural and behavioral processes captured by computational models. This paper reviews emerging computational approaches to the study of trait anxiety, specifying how interacting processes susceptible to analysis using computational models could drive a tendency to experience frequent anxious states and promote vulnerability to the development of clinical disorders. Existing computational studies are described in the light of this perspective and appropriate targets for future studies are discussed.