The Effects of Worry in Daily Life: An Ecological Momentary Assessment Study Supporting the Tenets of the Contrast Avoidance Model

Michelle G. Newman, Nicholas C. Jacobson, Nur Hani Zainal, Ki Eun Shin, Lauren E. Szkodny, Martin J. Sliwinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

The contrast avoidance model (CAM) suggests that worry increases and sustains negative emotion to prevent a negative emotional contrast (sharp upward shift in negative emotion) and increase the probability of a positive contrast (shift toward positive emotion). In Study 1, we experimentally validated momentary assessment items (N = 25). In Study 2, participants with generalized anxiety disorder (N = 31) and controls (N = 37) were prompted once per hour regarding their worry, thought valence, and arousal 10 times a day for 8 days. Higher worry duration, negative thought valence, and uncontrollable train of thoughts predicted feeling more keyed up concurrently and sustained anxious activation 1 hr later. More worry, feeling keyed up, and uncontrollable train of thoughts predicted lower likelihood of a negative emotional contrast in thought valence and higher likelihood of a positive emotional contrast in thought valence 1 hr later. Findings support the prospective ecological validity of CAM. Our findings suggest that naturalistic worry reduces the likelihood of a sharp increase in negative affect and does so by increasing and sustaining anxious activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)794-810
Number of pages17
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology

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