The naturalistic reinforcement of worry from positive and negative emotional contrasts: Results from a momentary assessment study within social interactions

Michelle G. Newman, Jeremy T. Schwob, Gavin N. Rackoff, Natalia Van Doren, Ki Eun Shin, Hanjoo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The Contrast Avoidance Model (Newman & Llera, 2011) proposes that worry is reinforced by avoiding a negative contrast and increasing the likelihood of a positive contrast. Objective: To determine if reinforcement of worry occurs naturalistically via contrasts in both negative and positive emotion. Method: Using event-contingent momentary assessment we assessed social interactions, pre-interaction state worry and pre-post interaction positive and negative emotion. Participants with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD; N = 83) completed an online questionnaire after social interactions lasting at least 1 min for 8 days. Three-level multilevel models were conducted. Results: Higher worry was concurrently associated with increased negative emotion and decreased positive emotion. Regardless of pre-interaction worry level, negative emotion decreased, and positive emotion increased from before to after interactions, suggesting that most interactions were benign or positive. At lower levels of pre-interaction worry, participants experienced increased negative emotion and decreased positive emotion from before to after interactions. At higher levels of pre-interaction worry, participants experienced decreased negative emotion and increased positive emotion from before to after interactions. Conclusion: Among persons with GAD, worrying before social interactions may be both negatively and positively reinforced; furthermore, not worrying before social interactions may be both negatively and positively punished.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102634
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Volume92
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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