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Looming Maladaptive Style as a Specific Moderator of Risk Factors for Anxiety

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Title: Looming Maladaptive Style as a Specific Moderator of Risk Factors for Anxiety
Creators: Adler, Abby
Advisor: Strunk, Daniel
Issue Date: 2009-04
Abstract: Both the tendency to view threatening events as likely and the experience of threatening events have been identified as important in the etiology and maintenance of symptoms of anxiety. However, these risk factors have also been related to the course of depressive symptoms. In an effort to expand on traditional theories of anxiety, Riskind (1997) proposed that an individual’s tendency to view threatening events as rapidly intensifying and approaching is an important, though often neglected factor in understanding anxiety. This tendency is known as a looming maladaptive style (LMS). Studies have shown that LMS predicts subsequent change in symptoms of anxiety (e.g., Riskind, Williams, Gessner, Chrosniak, & Cortina, 2000), and distinguishes between individuals diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and controls (Riskind & Williams, 2005). Given the limitations of traditional risk factors for anxiety and more recent findings by Riskind, I sought to examine whether LMS is a specific moderator for predicting change in anxiety symptoms (as compared to depressive symptoms) over one month. I considered two interactions in predicting change in anxiety: first, an interaction of predictive tendencies for threatening events and LMS, and second, an interaction of experiencing threatening events and LMS. Interactions indicate that the combination of two risk factors predicts substantially more risk than either risk factor alone. Seventy-two undergraduates with a range of anxiety and depressive symptoms completed measures at five times points. Anxiety and depressive symptoms were assessed via self-report and interview-based measures at the initial session as well as one-month follow-up. In addition, participates completed a measure of LMS and made predictions for the likelihood that 10 threatening events would occur to them over the following month. Assessments of threatening life event occurrence were collected online from participants weekly. First, predictive tendencies and experiences of threatening events were each significant predictors of change in anxiety over one month. Thus, greater predictive tendencies for threatening events or more threatening events occurring were each related to a worse course of anxiety symptoms. Second, the interactions of (1) predictive tendencies and LMS and (2) experiences of threatening events and LMS were each significant in predicting change in anxiety. Thus, considering these interactions accounted for significantly more variance than merely considering each predictor independently. Furthermore, these interactions remained significant in predicting change in anxiety even after covarying residualized change in depressive symptoms. Finally, when change in depression was the primary dependent variable, these interactions were not significant. These results suggest that the interaction of predictive tendencies and LMS as well as the interaction of experiences of threatening events and LMS appear specific for predicting change in symptoms of anxiety (as compared to symptoms of depression). When people exhibit a high LMS, the relationships between more traditional risk factors and symptoms of anxiety are particularly strong, suggesting that LMS is a key vulnerability factor that may be the focus of early interventions for anxiety disorders.
Embargo: No embargo
Series/Report no.: 2009 Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum. 23rd
Keywords: anxiety
looming maladaptive style
Description: Social and Behavioral Sciences; Social Work; Law: 3rd Place (The Ohio State University Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum)
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1811/38875
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