Worriers need to worry to be happy

December 18, 1998

Worriers even worry about things that make them happy, it is claimed.

Researchers at the University of Sussex asked students to think about the feature in their life that made them happiest and then to imagine something worrying about it. They found that students prone to worry could think up more reasons to worry about this positive thing in their lives than other people.

Even when asked to think of a hypothetical situation, such as what it would be like to be the Statue of Liberty, people with a tendency to worry could think of significantly more problems and worries associated with such a situation than non-worriers.

"What was perhaps most interesting is that worriers held the very strong belief that worrying is a necessary thing to do to avoid catastrophies," explains psychologist Graham Davey. He says pathological worriers worry about so many things that when most of these things do not happen they put this down to their worrying. The fact that these things were unlikely to happen anyway seems not to be appreciated.

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