Short-term predictive effects of the looming cognitive style on anxiety disorder symptoms under restrictive methodological conditions. Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract The looming cognitive style (LCS), an overarching cognitive vulnerability for anxiety syndromes, pertains to a tendency to construct dynamic expectations (mental scenarios, images) of negative events as progressively increasing in danger and rapidly escalating in risk. This study tested the hypothesis that the LCS has functions as a cognitive antecedent and moderator for even short-term changes over a brief time interval in anxiety syndromes (worry, obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms, social anxiety, general anxiety) under restrictive methodological conditions. These included: (a) a one-week interval during which very little changes in anxiety were observed, and (b) controlling for participants’ depression and intolerance of uncertainty. As hypothesized by our model, the looming cognitive style predicted short-term changes in worry and OCD symptoms over the week interval, and tended to predict changes in social (audience) anxiety. This style also functioned as a moderator and predicted changes in OCD symptoms among participants already high on this anxiety outcome. Intolerance of uncertainty predicted changes in social (audience) anxiety but not changes in OCD symptoms or worry. These findings support the looming vulnerability theory of anxiety, and encourage further attention into the possible role of the LCS as a cognitive antecedent and moderator of changes in a spectrum of anxiety syndromes.

publication date

  • January 1, 2007