Cognitive processes predict worry and anxiety under different stressful situations

Feng, Ya-Chun, Krahe, Charlotte ORCID: 0000-0002-0620-1263, Koster, Ernst HW, Lau, Jennifer YF and Hirsch, Colette R
(2022) Cognitive processes predict worry and anxiety under different stressful situations. BEHAVIOUR RESEARCH AND THERAPY, 157. 104168-.

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Worry, a stream of negative thoughts about the future, is maintained by poor attentional control, and the tendency to attend to negative information (attention bias) and interpret ambiguity negatively (interpretation bias). Memories that integrate negative interpretations (interpretation-memory) may also contribute to worry, but this remains unexplored. We aimed to investigate how these cognitive processes are associated with worry and anxiety cross-sectionally (Phase 1), and then explore which cognitive processes from Phase 1 would predict worry and anxiety during times of high stress, namely prior to examinations (Phase 2), and after the initial onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (Phase 3). Worry, anxiety, and cognitive processes were assessed in an undergraduate sample (N = 64). We found that whilst greater benign interpretation bias and benign interpretation-memory bias were associated with lower levels of concurrent worry and anxiety, only interpretation bias explained unique variance in worry and anxiety. No cognitive predictor significantly explained unique variance in prospective worry and anxiety prior to examinations. In relation to anxiety and worry during the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, both benign attention bias and benign interpretation-memory bias predicted decreased worry; only benign attention bias predicted decreased anxiety. Findings suggest that cognitive processes can predict changes in worry and anxiety during future stressful contexts.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Worry, Anxiety, COVID-19, Interpretation bias, Attention bias, Memory bias
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Population Health
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2022 08:42
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 20:45
DOI: 10.1016/j.brat.2022.104168
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