Worry and perceived threat of proximal and distal undesirable outcomes

Keith Bredemeier, Howard Berenbaum, Jeffrey M. Spielberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Individuals who are prone to worry tend to overestimate the likelihoods and costs of future undesirable outcomes. However, it is unclear whether these relations vary as a function of the timeframe of the event in question. In the present study, 342 undergraduate students completed a self-report measure of worry and rated the perceived probabilities and costs of 40 undesirable outcomes. Specifically, each participant estimated the probability that each of these outcomes would occur within three different timeframes: the next month, the next year, and the next 10 years. We found that the strength of the association between worry and probability estimates was strongest for the most proximal timeframe. Probability estimates were more strongly associated with worry for participants with elevated cost estimates, and this interactive effect was strongest for the most distal timeframe. Implications of these findings for understanding the etiology and treatment of excessive worry are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-429
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Cost estimates
  • Perceived threat
  • Probability estimates
  • Timeframe
  • Worry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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