Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

People Prefer To Know When A Stressful Event Is About To Occur

Date:
January 18, 2001
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
Given the option, people would rather know when a stressful event is about to occur than not know, according to a new study led by Brown University researchers, whose findings provide insight into the management of panic disorder.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Given the option, people would rather know when a stressful event is about to occur than not know, according to a new study led by Brown University researchers, whose findings provide insight into the management of panic disorder.

Sixty percent of the study participants expressed a preference to know when an anxiety-provoking event was about to occur. The rest were largely indifferent; only a small percentage preferred not to know. Predictability was especially sought by women with a high vulnerability to anxiety, of whom 90 percent preferred predictability.

“The real value of predictability isn’t necessarily when the aversive event is happening,” said Carl Lejuez, the study’s lead researcher and an assistant research professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown. “Predictability allows you to know there are ‘safe’ periods.”

Despite the assumption in clinical work that identifying precipitants to panic is central to cognitive and behavioral treatments for panic disorder, there have been few studies in humans that directly test that assumption, said Lejuez.

Anxiety-provoking events were created by administering participants 20 percent carbon dioxide-enriched air, which produces many of the same psychological and physiological responses people experience during panic attack, including breathlessness, a feeling of tightness in the chest, and sweaty palms.

Forty undergraduate students at West Virginia University without a diagnosed anxiety disorder were tested using air enriched with the CO2.

In the first phase of the study, participants were told that sometimes a tone would warn them CO2 was coming and sometimes there would be no warning. Before each trial, a computer screen displayed either the letter T, indicating that if CO2 were administered during that trial they would hear a tone first, or N, indicating that there would be no tone. In a second phase of the study, participants could chose whether the CO2 would be predictable or unpredictable.

Although only individuals without anxiety disorders were studied, researchers found that study participants with the greatest vulnerability to anxiety (as determined by the way in which they answered a written questionnaire) were more likely to prefer and choose predict-able administrations of CO2 than less vulnerable participants.

In addition, women were twice as likely as men to prefer and choose predictable over unpredictable CO2 administrations. Other studies have found that women are at greater risk for experiencing panic attacks and developing panic disorder, according to Lejuez. Also, women have been shown to be more likely than men to seek information regarding unpleasant events.

Lejuez conducted the research with Michael Zvolensky of Brown University, Georg Eifert of West Virginia University, and Jerry Richards of the State University of New York–Buffalo. Their findings appeared in the December issue of the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. The next step in this line of research will be to study patients with panic disorders, said Lejuez. Additional research may also determine the exact mechanisms through which predictability offers its benefits.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brown University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Brown University. "People Prefer To Know When A Stressful Event Is About To Occur." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 January 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010118070656.htm>.
Brown University. (2001, January 18). People Prefer To Know When A Stressful Event Is About To Occur. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010118070656.htm
Brown University. "People Prefer To Know When A Stressful Event Is About To Occur." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/01/010118070656.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins