Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 551–565 | Cite as

Anticipatory anxiety and risk perception

  • Gillian Butler
  • Andrew Mathews


This study tested the prediction that anxiety, arising from anticipation of a stressful examination (state anxiety), would be associated with an inflation of subjective risk in judgments of negative events related to oneself. The subjective probability of pleasant and unpleasant events was rated on two occasions, 1 month and 1 day before the examination date. Increases in anticipatory anxiety as the examination approached were associated with increased subjective risk of examination failure, while the more stable personality trait of anxiety was associated with perceived risk of all self-referred negative events whether or not they related to examinations. These results were taken as providing general support for a cognitive view of anxiety, in which a relationship exists between state anxiety and the accessibility of information relating to personal threat, while trait anxiety relates to the extent or range of such personally threatening information in memory.

Key words

anxiety subjective probability cognitive processes 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gillian Butler
    • 1
  • Andrew Mathews
    • 2
  1. 1.University of OxfordUK
  2. 2.University of LondonUK

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