Preliminary exploration of worry: Some characteristics and processes

T. D. Borkovec, Elwood Robinson, Thomas Pruzinsky, James A. DePree

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1025 Scopus citations


The present paper reports two questionnaire studies and an experimental investigation of worrying. Worry correlated more highly than general tension reports with a variety of affect scales and was characterized by: (a) feelings of anxiety, tension and apprehension; (b) moderate awareness of somatic cues including muscle tension and upset stomach; and (c) concerns over future rather than past or present situations. Self-labeled worriers were most distinguished from non-worriers by their reported uncontrollability of cognitive intrusions once worrying was initiated. In the experimental study, worriers and non-worriers were assessed for their ability to focus their attention on a monotonous (breathing) stimulus before and after 0, 15 or 30 min of worrying. Worriers reported significantly higher anxiety. depression and hostility, a lower frequency of focused attention and a greater frequency of negative thought intrusions than did non-worriers prior to the worry period. For both worriers and non-worriers. 15 min of worry resulted in an apparent incubation of negative cognitive intrusions on the subsequent attention-focusing task.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-16
Number of pages8
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1983

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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