Title

The Effect of Repeated Visual or Verbal Worry on Thought Intrusions and Habituation

Date of Award

8-1-2006

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

The avoidance model of worry proposes that verbal and visual cognitive activi ty serve to maintain or reduce worry, respectively. The present study tested this model in a laboratory setting. One-hundred one undergraduate college students (77 female, 24 male; mean age = 20.55 years) identified as high or low worriers underwent two fifteen-minute sessions of visually imagining, or verbally thinking about, personally relevant worry topics. Outcome measures included post-exposure thought intrusions, and psychophysiological and subjective arousal. As expected, high worriers reported higher subjective anxiety and more negative thought intrusions throughout the experiment. Visual exposure did not reduce negative thought intrusions across sessions; however, positive thought intrusions increased in visual exposure groups only. Theoretical, research, and clinical implications for worry are discussed.

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