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The Effects of Stoic Training and Adaptive Working Memory Training on Emotional Vulnerability in High Worriers



Previous research has indicated a causal relationship between attentional control and anxiety with literature finding that attentional control training combined with mindfulness meditation may lead to cognitive improvements in high worriers. The current study investigates whether the practical application of Stoicism, a philosophy originating from the Hellenistic period, will provide similar self-report and cognitive improvement in a sample of high worriers.


45 high worriers were randomly allocated into one of three training groups: an active control 1-back, a combined adaptive dual n-back and Stoic training and a Stoic training only group. Participants were tested on anxiety and rumination as well as measures of attentional control and a nascent scale to measure Stoic ideation, pre- and post- an 8-session training period.


Results found significant effects of Stoic training on rumination and self-efficacy. Text analyses of the Stoic training found reduced frequencies of anxious and negatively valenced words questions related to self-assessments and planning.


The study provides a positive foundation for the further research and development of Stoic training. The wider implications of these results are discussed.

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Correspondence to Alexander MacLellan.

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The study received approval from the Ethics Committee of the Department of Psychological Sciences at Birkbeck College, University of London.

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Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.

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MacLellan, A., Derakshan, N. The Effects of Stoic Training and Adaptive Working Memory Training on Emotional Vulnerability in High Worriers. Cogn Ther Res 45, 730–744 (2021).

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  • Attentional control
  • Rumination
  • Working memory training
  • Mixed methods research