The present study explored the range of beliefs that individuals have about the consequences of worrying. Study 1 used a factor-analytic method to categorize these consequences and revealed five theoretically coherent factors—three representing negative consequences, and two representing positive consequences. The negative consequences corresponded to worry disrupting effective performance, worry exaggerating the problem, and worry causing emotional distress. The positive consequences were the motivational influence of worry and worry helping analytical thinking. Study 2 compared scores on the five consequences of worrying subscales with other measures of psychopathology and psychological health. As expected, scores on the three negative-consequences subscales correlated highly with a range of measures of psychopathology. In addition, positive consequences were also significantly associated with a number of measures indicating poor psychological outcomes, and subjects who held both negative and positive beliefs about the consequences of worrying scored significantly higher on a variety of psychopathology measures than subjects who held just negative beliefs. This latter finding is consistent with accounts which suggest that pathological worrying may be maintained by dysfunctional beliefs about the positive consequences of worrying.
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The authors are grateful to The Open University for allowing access to their students as subjects for this study, and to Cathy Davey for her assistance with data analysis
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Davey, G.C.L., Tallis, F. & Capuzzo, N. Beliefs about the consequences of worrying. Cogn Ther Res 20, 499–520 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02227910
- dysfunctional cognitions
- psychological health