Sally really wants to get good grades because there is a job she really wants to do.
Bill wants to get good grades because he doesn't want to be unemployed when he leaves university.
Does it make a difference which motivations someone uses to get something done in terms of anxiety levels?
Do you tend to spend most of your daily life striving achieving positive goals or do you tend to find yourself doing things to avoid negative situations and outcomes?
Which of these two strategies motivates you to do things most of the time? It is worth keeping a note of which motivations you use during your normal week.
OK let me ask you another question
If a difficult situation arises what is your natural response?
a. Pretend it's not happening or try to avoid the situation?
b. Get in there and try to find out what's going on by exploring the issue?
and one more
Do you generally
a. Actively make things happen in your life?
b. React to things happening?
As you may well have guessed, these three questions are related - not only to each other but also how effective you re likely to be at regulating your own emotions and how much anxiety you suffer from.
Psychologists refer to this as Regulatory Focus (RF). Are you a positive goal focussed, always trying to achieve something kind of person or do you tend to be motivated to action largely to stop negative things happening?
Regulatory focus has been of interest to psychologists for a long time. A growing body of research in recent years has focussed on whether an individuals or teams Regulatory Focus has an impact on out health and in particular on things like anxiety, depression and recently whether our regulatory focus has an impact on our ability to regulate our own emotions.
In a forthcoming paper colleagues at the University of Illinois led by Professor Florin Dolcos, investigated this very issue. Does our Regulatory Focus make any difference to our general levels of anxiety and our ability to regulate our emotions. They studied 179 healthy adults (110 women and 69 men) to look at their general levels of anxiety, what type of emotion regulation strategies they used when things got tough (which leads to Emotional Resilience) and their Regulatory Focus.
What the researchers found was that people with a positive goal oriented attitude who tend to explore and make things happen tend to to suffer significantly less anxiety and tend to have more effective emotion regulation strategies.
On the 15th August I will be running a LIVE online seminar called 'How we catch anxiety and fear and what to do about it'. I will be covering some of the latest research and ideas about the 'why' of anxiety and fear. The seminar is FREE but there are only100 places. If you would like to book a place simply leave your details below:
The seminar will be at 6pm UK (BST) (1pm EDT - 10AM PDT - 7PM CEST /SAST - 3AM AEST)
Llewellyn, N. Et Al (2013) Reappraisal and Suppression Mediate the Contribution of Regulatory Focus to Anxiety in Healthy Adults. Emotion May 2013 (First notice)