Worrying and performance on the Stroop task in women
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Psychiatr Pol 2009;43(1):41–51
Background. Worrying is a process involving chronic, repetitive activation of unproductive thought chains whose contents are predominantly characterized by anticipation of future outcomes undesirable for the individual. Numerous studies demonstrated the role of excessive worrying in the patomechanisms of general anxiety disorder and depression as well as its associations with several non-adaptative aspects of functioning. Some neuroimaging studies suggested an association of worrying with frontal cortex activity. Aim. The objective of this study was to assess the associations of worrying with the frontal lobe functions, as measured by the Stroop Task. Methods. Fifty female students took part in the study. Each participant completed the Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSQW), a psychometric measure of worrying tendencies, and performed on the Color Words Stroop Task. Results. No statistically significant associations were found between the worrying levels and response times on the Stroop Task. However, worrying was found to be statistically significantly related to the number of errors committed on the Stroop Task, with women characterized by higher worrying levels, making approximately two-fold fewer errors in comparison to women with lower worrying levels. Conclusions. In women, higher worrying levels may be associated with a qualitatively better performance on some mental tasks, which may probably be accounted for by the involvement of higher attentional readiness or personality traits, such as perfectionism.