Why Your Paruresis Anxiety Makes you Heed Bad Advice

When you’re wrapped up in your paruresis anxiety, you may be more likely to grab for any tidbit of advice. You are also likely to follow the advice, even if the advice is awful and even if the person giving you the advice has a major conflict of interest.

You may already recall a few such scenarios in your head, such as someone telling you to simply stay home to “cure” shy bladder or a sales person saying buying their medication is the road to paruresis recovery.

Don’t feel bad about seeking and heeding the advice, as it’s the normal reaction if you’re suffering from anxiety. Two years worth of research says so!

The research, published as a report entitled “Anxiety, Advice and the Ability to Discern: Feeling Anxious Motivates Individuals to Seek and Use Advice,” appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The overall project consisted of eight experiments that uncovered a host of interesting findings. These include:

  • People suffering from anxiety are likely to seek and heed advice, although they don’t seek and heed advice when plagued with other negative emotions.
  • Anxiety typically leads to a decrease in self-confidence. The less self-confident someone is, the more likely they are to run to others for advice and direction.
  • “Finally, anxious individuals are found to fail to discriminate between good and bad advice,” the abstract says, “and between advice from advisors with and without a conflict of interest.” 

There you have it. When you’re at most anxious and distraught, it sounds like any advice will do. That’s a good fact to keep in mind the next time someone tells you to simply stay home.

Read an article on the report at http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=3140 

Check out the study: http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=2011-27254-001