An experience sampling investigation of emotion and worry in people with generalized anxiety disorder
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Emotion-oriented theories (e.g., emotion dysregulation model, Mennin et al., 2005; contrast avoidance model; Newman & Llera, 2011) posit that people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) have disturbances in emotion, experience negative emotion as aversive and in turn use maladaptive strategies, including worry, to regulate their distress. Much of what is known about emotion in the context of GAD is based on studies employing static methodologies. It is proposed that constructs and methodologies from the literature on emotion dynamics offer a complementary perspective. The principal aims of the study were to identify an emotion profile for people with GAD and to examine the direct effect of worry on subsequent negative and positive emotions via the experience sampling method. Participants included people with GAD (GAD group; n = 39) and people without GAD (nonclinical control [NCC] group; n = 41). Relative to the NCC group, the GAD group exhibited an emotion profile characterized by elevated mean intensity, greater instability and greater inertia of negative emotions and lower mean intensity, greater instability of positive emotions, but did not differ on inertia of positive emotions. People with GAD were found to have greater worry inertia and worry was also found to be associated with a subsequent increase in negative emotion, and this was more pronounced for the GAD group relative to the NCC group. The findings inform emotion-oriented models, provide unique insights into the dynamic emotional experiences of those with GAD and reinforce the benefits of the experience sampling methodology to study GAD-relevant processes.
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