An initiation-termination two-phase model of worrying

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Researchers have identified many factors that are associated with worrying, ranging from a verbal/left hemisphere bias to intolerance of uncertainty. This paper describes an initiation-termination (IT) two-phase model of worrying that attempts to comprehensively put together the many different pieces of the puzzle. The first phase of the model concerns the development of perceptions of threat, which initiates the process of worrying. The strength of a perceived threat is influenced by the perceived probability and cost of an undesirable future outcome, along with danger/risk salience. The second phase concerns acceptance of the prospect of an uncertain future threat, which terminates the process of worrying. Factors that play roles in this second phase include beliefs about the value of worrying, the desire for certainty, a perseverative-iterative style, and a sense of closure regarding one's role in trying to prevent or plan for the threat. The factors that play roles in these two phases are discussed, as are the implications of the model for conceptualizing, treating and conducting research on worrying.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)962-975
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Repetitive thoughts
  • Two-phase model
  • Worry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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