People who report intense feelings of responsibility are prone to develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), warn researchers.
Anxiety and OCD-like behaviour, such as checking if the door is locked, are common in the general population.However, it is the frequency and intensity of these behaviours or feelings that mark the difference between a character trait and a disorder.
"People with OCD (are) tortured by repeatedly occurring negative thinking and they take some strategy to prevent it... GAD is a very pervasive type of anxiety. (Patients) worry about everything," said study co-author Yoshinori Sugiura, Associate Professor at the University of Hiroshima in Japan.
The goal of this research team was to find a common cause for these disorders and simplify the theories behind them.
The research group combined tests used to study OCD and GAD as there had been no previous work that compared these tests in the same study.
In a survey with American university students, the researchers found that respondents who scored higher in questions about responsibility were more likely to exhibit behaviours that resemble those of OCD or GAD patients.
Personal responsibility, blame and the responsibility to continue thinking, had the strongest link to the disorders, said the study published in the International Journal of Cognitive Therapy.