Rapid Communication

Worry is predicted by cognitive flexibility and attentional control in a non-clinical sample of adolescents

[Speaker] Rodríguez Corcelles, Lydia C:1,2
[Co-author] De Jesús Romero, Robinson A.:1,2, Rodríguez Hernández, Valerie N:1,2, Joyner Bizama, Allison B:1,2, Avilés Font, Mariela:1,2, Acevedo Molina, Mónica C:1,2, Díaz, Paulina G:1,2, Tirado Santiago, Giovanni:1,2
1:University of Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico), 2:Institute for Psychological Research (Puerto Rico)

Worry, the uncontrollable thinking about potential negative consequences, can lead to anxious symptoms and impair problem-solving strategies. Some interventions in adolescents only focus in managing anxious arousal with behavioral techniques, without considering the impact of cognitive processes in worry symptoms. Thus, we assessed individual differences in cognitive processes in adolescents and tested their impact in worry. For this, we translated into Spanish and validated three self-report scales that measure worry, attentional errors (AE) and cognitive flexibility traits (CF) (α from .84 to .88), and administered them to 108 adolescents. Multiple regression analysis showed that AE and CF explained 24% of the variance in worry (R2=.24, F(2,105)=16.74, p<.001). Our model suggests that practicing strategies involving CF, such as considering alternatives to everyday issues and the ability to manage attention impact the manifestation of worry. Understanding individual differences in these variables may inform the development of interventions for treating anxiety in adolescents.
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