Brief Report

Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 380-382

First online:

Instruction in Problem-Solving Skills Increases the Hedonic Balance of Highly Neurotic Individuals

  • Jaclyn StillmakerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Knox College
  • , Tim KasserAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Knox College Email author 

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Neuroticism is associated with ineffective coping strategies and experiencing substantial negative affect, but prior research has not examined whether teaching problem-solving skills can help neurotic individuals improve their emotional experience. 214 college students were screened for neuroticism and 30 participants who scored in the top two deciles of neuroticism were randomly assigned to a no-treatment control group or to an intervention group that received three lessons based on a problem-solving curriculum (Nezu et al. in Solving life’s problems: a 5-step guide to enhanced well-being. Springer, New York, 2007). Hedonic balance (i.e., positive minus negative affect) was measured before the intervention and again approximately 4 days and approximately 11 weeks after the intervention ended. Analyses revealed that the intervention group showed an increase in hedonic balance over time, whereas the control group showed no changes; improvements in hedonic balance were correlated with improvements in problem-solving strategies. Thus, it appears that teaching problem-solving can improve the emotional experience of neurotic individuals.


Problem-solving therapy Neuroticism Hedonic balance