The researchers studied a group of people who were chronic worriers. About half of these people had worries so severe that they met the criteria for psychological condition, Generalised Anxiety Disorder. People with this problem typically have their attention taken up by worry related information.
People in the experimental condition were given practice in attending to positive (not worry-related) information when both positive and negative information were presented at the same time. The other participants completed a control condition where their attention was not modified. The researchers found that during a subsequent task people in the positive attention group worried less. The study indicates that attention is important in keeping worry going and it provides a new way to help to reduce worry.
Though it is unclear whether the researchers did this, previous studies have shown that attending to the positive increases positive emotion too.
The findings were presented by Dr Hirsch?s research group from University College London at the annual conference of the division of Clinical Psychology on Thursday the 13th of December. The British Psychological Society