Will you thrive under pressure or burn out? Linking anxiety motivation and emotional exhaustion

Cogn Emot. 2015;29(4):578-91. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2014.922934. Epub 2014 Jun 3.


Can individual differences in the tendency to use anxiety as a source of motivation explain emotional exhaustion? We examined the effects of using anxiety as a source of energy or as a source of information (viewed here as two forms of anxiety motivation) on emotional exhaustion. In Study 1, the use of anxiety as a source of energy predicted decreased emotional exhaustion one year later. Moreover, both forms of anxiety motivation buffered people from the detrimental effects of trait anxiety on later emotional exhaustion. In Study 2, an experiment, participants who were instructed to use anxiety as a source of energy reported lower emotional exhaustion following a stressful task, compared to those instructed to focus on the task or to simply do their best. These findings suggest that using anxiety as a source of motivation may protect people against emotional exhaustion.

Keywords: Anxiety; Burnout; Emotional exhaustion; Energy; Motivation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety*
  • Emotions*
  • Fatigue*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*