Category: Adult Anxiety - GAD

PS9- #A13 - Decomposing the Looming Cognitive Style: Perception of Threat Probability, Progression, and Visualization With Anxiety, Worry, and GAD Symptoms

Saturday, Nov 18
9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Cognitive Vulnerability | Adult Anxiety | GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)

The Looming Cognitive Style (LCS) is conceptualized as a cognitive vulnerability that increase risks for anxiety. LCS is characterized by cognitive activity in which threat is mentally represented as rapidly approaching and building in negative consequences (Riskind, 1997). The LCS is uniquely predictive of anxiety symptoms beyond other anxiety vulnerability measures (Reardon & Williams, 2007) and depression (Williams et al., 2005). Additionally, the LCS is associated with anxiety/ fears of specific anxiety disorders (Riskind et al., 2011) and greater fear generation (del Palacio-Gonzalez & Clark, 2015) and freezing responses (Riskind et al., 2016).


LCS is assessed using the Looming Maladaptive Style Questionnaire-II (Riskind et al., 2000). Participants vividly imaging themselves in six vignettes and complete questions regarding the extent to which threat probability is growing and getting progressively worse. They also rate how well the threat can be visualized. The LMSQ-II is a reliable and well-validated measure. In past investigations, Riskind and colleagues have demonstrated that spider looming and visual representation of spider movement were associated with threat cognitions and spider phobia ratings (Riskind et al., 1992; Riskind et al., 1995). The total LMSQ-II score has also been found to correlate with recall of threatening images, ease of recalling threatening images, and frequency estimation of threatening image exposure (Riskind et al., 2000).


The association of the LMSQ-II dimensions with anxiety, worry and GAD symptoms have not been investigated. In the current investigation, the specific contribution of threat probability, progression, and visualization in predicting anxiety, worry, and GAD symptoms was assessed. 250 undergraduate students completed the LMSQ-II, GADQ-IV (Newman et al., 2002), Penn State Worry Questionnaire (Meyer et al., 1990) and the Mini Mood and Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire (Clark & Watson, 1995). The intercorrelations between the LCS threat probability, progression, and visualization were substantial (average r(249)= .79, ps < .01). Intercorrelations between threat probability, progression, visualization and anxiety, worry, and GAD symptoms were statistically significant. There were no statistically significant differences in the correlations between threat probability, progression, and visualization with anxiety, worry, and GAD symptoms (average Zs(249) < 1.0, ps > .05).Using partial correlations, the correlations between threat progression and anxiety, worry, and GAD symptoms were statistically significant when controlling for threat probability and visualization (average r(249) = .16, p < .05). The partial correlations between threat probability and anxiety, worry, and GAD symptoms and between visualization and anxiety, worry, and GAD symptoms were not statistically significant when controlling for the other LMSQ-II dimensions. The results suggest the critical aspect of the LCS is the dynamic, temporal element of threat progression in predicting anxiety, worry, and GAD symptoms. 

Sean A. Lauderdale

Assistant Professor
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Commerce, Texas