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Anxiety is characterized by anticipatory emotions as a response to potential threats. Despite knowledge of the effectivity of implementation intention in regulating emotion evoked by aversive stimuli, whether this method is effective in regulating anticipatory anxiety for potential threats remains unknown. To bridge this gap, this study applied a cue–target paradigm to induce anticipatory anxiety toward potential negative pictures among participants. Specifically, emotion feeling (no-regulation), goal intention, goal intention+response and implementation intention were administered to different groups to explore their regulatory effects on anticipatory anxiety. The results demonstrated a unique regulatory effect of implementation intention on anticipatory anxiety, regardless of the type of cue. However, this effect is absent under the goal intention and goal intention+response conditions. These findings suggest that implementation intention is effective in downregulating anticipatory anxiety. In addition, its regulatory effect cannot be attributed to a mere goal setup or the setup of goal and response combination, but should be accounted for by the setup of the situation–response contingency in addition to goal representation.


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The formation of the if–then contingency in implementation intention relieves anticipatory anxiety

Show Author's information Dongmei Zhao1,§Hong Li1,2,3,§Jixuan Mao1,3Jiajin Yuan1( )
The Affect Cognition and Regulation Laboratory, Institute of Brain and Psychological Sciences, Sichuan Normal University, Chengdu 610066, China
Taiyuan Chengcheng Middle School, Taiyuan 030000, China
Faculty of Psychology, Southwest University, Chonqqing 400715, China

§ Dongmei Zhao and Hong Li contributed equally to this work.

Abstract

Anxiety is characterized by anticipatory emotions as a response to potential threats. Despite knowledge of the effectivity of implementation intention in regulating emotion evoked by aversive stimuli, whether this method is effective in regulating anticipatory anxiety for potential threats remains unknown. To bridge this gap, this study applied a cue–target paradigm to induce anticipatory anxiety toward potential negative pictures among participants. Specifically, emotion feeling (no-regulation), goal intention, goal intention+response and implementation intention were administered to different groups to explore their regulatory effects on anticipatory anxiety. The results demonstrated a unique regulatory effect of implementation intention on anticipatory anxiety, regardless of the type of cue. However, this effect is absent under the goal intention and goal intention+response conditions. These findings suggest that implementation intention is effective in downregulating anticipatory anxiety. In addition, its regulatory effect cannot be attributed to a mere goal setup or the setup of goal and response combination, but should be accounted for by the setup of the situation–response contingency in addition to goal representation.

Keywords:

anticipatory anxiety, implementation intention, emotion regulation, cue–target paradigm
Received: 16 April 2022 Revised: 26 July 2022 Accepted: 27 July 2022 Published: 17 August 2022 Issue date: September 2022
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Publication history

Received: 16 April 2022
Revised: 26 July 2022
Accepted: 27 July 2022
Published: 17 August 2022
Issue date: September 2022

Copyright

© The Author(s) 2022

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgment

This study is funded by National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 31871103 and 31971018).

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Creative Commons Non Commercial CC BY-NC: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attributtion-NonCommercial 4.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission.

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