Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology
How to Cite
Otto, M. W., Calkins, A. W. and Hearon, B. A. 2010. Anxiety. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.
- Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
Anxiety is a future-oriented emotional state characterized by a sense of apprehension, worry, and lack of control of one's own affective response. Anxiety should be differentiated from fear, a distinct and basic emotion that is best conceptualized as a primitive alarm in response to present danger. In contrast, anxiety is concerned with future threat, and although feelings of apprehension predominate, the emotional state of anxiety may be accompanied by a diffuse mix of shame, guilt, excitement, anger, or sadness. Anxiety tends to be a motivating force. It leads people to both intensify and narrow the focus of their attention to the perceived source of threat. If channeled into constructive activity, anxiety can be the source of motivation for problem solving, creativity, or other forms of adaptive change. However, anxiety may also interfere with performance. This is especially true for stronger feelings of anxiety and for more complex tasks where less-aroused states may be required for careful evaluation or problem solving.