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Worriers Use Different Parts of Brain, Make More Rational Decisions

Aug 29, 2013 09:45 AM EDT
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People who worry constantly tend to take more rational decisions when compared to those that worry less and tend to "listen to their gut," according to a new study.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Sussex who found that anxious people tend to weight pros and cons of every decision instead of just going with the flow.

Research has shown that there are two ways by which the brain makes a decision; one is the rational one relying on "systemic processing" that is characterized by effortful thought, the second one is based on instincts and is called heuristic processing.

The study showed that worriers tend to use systemic processing, which occurs in the left frontal lobe, when compared with those who use the right frontal lobe.

"We tend to use systematic processing when we feel highly motivated and also when our actual confidence in the decision that we are making is not as good as we would like it to be. In other words, it is a bit like an alarm bell going off in our mind - if something is important to us, and we do not feel that we have done as good a job as we can, we are likely to use systematic processing," said Dr Suzanne Dash, one of the study authors, according to a news release.

According to researchers, rational thought becomes very important in certain situations such as during a car or house purchase. However, certain people give in way too much thought over something that might seem trivial to others.

These people strive for perfection in everything. They hate uncertainty and require all information before making a decision.

Experts said that the latest study that examines the difference in decision-making in chronic worriers might help design interventions for these people.

The study is published in the Clinical Psychology Review.

Other studies have shown that worrying can negatively affect health. People, who constantly worry about things, tend to have higher risk of stroke and back pain.  A recent study had shown that people's reaction to stress affects health more than stress itself. In this study, researchers described people as being either "Velcro" or "Teflon", with Velcro people being more worried about a problem and feeling grumpy about it for a long time.

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