The looming maladaptive style predicts shared variance in anxiety disorder symptoms: Further support for a cognitive model of vulnerability to anxiety Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Looming vulnerability pertains to a distinct cognitive phenomenology characterized by mental representations of dynamically intensifying danger and rapidly rising risk as one projects the self into an anticipated future [J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 79 (2000) 837]. While looming appraisals can be experienced as state elicitation, some individuals are hypothesized to develop an enduring cognitive pattern of cross-situational looming appraisals, the looming maladaptive style (LMS), which functions as a cognitive vulnerability to anxiety. In the present study, we examined the extent to which the LMS predicts common variance in numerous anxiety disorder symptoms, independent of the potentially confounding effects of current depressive symptoms. Specifically, we hypothesized that controlling for depressive symptoms, LMS would predict shared variance in a latent factor comprised of indicators of five anxiety disorder symptoms: obsessive–compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, and specific phobic fears. Measures of these anxiety disorder symptoms, depressive symptoms, and looming vulnerability were administered to unselected college student population. Structural equations modeling analyses provided support for our hypothesis that LMS predicts shared variance in anxiety disorder symptoms and suggest that this cognitive style may be an overarching dimension of vulnerability to anxiety.

publication date

  • January 1, 2005