THE EFFECTS OF WORRY ON EMOTIONAL AVOIDANCE IN GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER: PHYSIOLOGICAL REACTIVITY AND SUBJECTIVE EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE

Open Access
Author:
Llera, Sandra Jean
Graduate Program:
Psychology
Degree:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
March 04, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Michelle Gayle Newman, Thesis Advisor
Keywords:
  • generalized anxiety disorder
  • emotional avoidance
  • worry
Abstract:
The present study examined the effect of worry versus relaxation on physiological and subjective responding to subsequent emotion-inducing stimuli. Participants selected based on their GAD status engaged in five worry, relaxation, or neutral thought inductions. Each induction was followed by exposure to one of five film clips, presented in counter-balanced order, designed to elicit a range of both positive and negative emotions. Results indicate that worry led to reduced vagal tone in the GAD group, higher negative affect and anxiety levels, and less physiological and subjective responding to the fearful exposure. Worry also led to a reduction in negative affect and anxious responding to the sad clip. Results suggest that worry facilitates avoidance of negative emotions, but not positive emotions. Implications for the role of worry in emotion dysregulation are discussed.