According to Bandura’s (1988) research into Social cognitive theory, how much a person feels in control of dealing with a potential threat is linked to whether they feel anxious or not. It is the perception of the match that causes the anxiety. If a person perceives that the match between the potential threat and the ability to cope with it is not very good then the anxiety will be high; but if the match between the potential threat and being able to cope is good, then the anxiety will be low or non existent. It is the person who believes that they cannot cope with the threatening environment that has a high level of anxiety and distress. As the world is full of potentially threatening environments, learning how to develop a better control to bring the desired effect of less anxiety is required. Instead of learning a new behaviour to tackle the anxiety, it is said that the main self-protecting behaviour of a person who perceives themselves as unable to cope with a situation is to become anxious or to avoid the situation.
In my experience with people, this behaviour of anxiety or avoidance can lead to restricted interaction with the world by choice. The learned new cognitive behaviour would be very useful to these individuals as we have to remember that the threat they feel is only perceived by them and not always actually harmful in many cases and its their own perception of a situation that stops them doing so much in their lives.
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