The loomingness of danger: Does it discriminate focal phobia and general anxiety from depression?

Abstract

In three studies, we examine the apparent loomingness, or rapid forward motion, that anxious individuals may perceive in danger. Results of the current studies show that individuals who are phobic of specific focal stimuli—spiders—may perceive loomingness in the dangers they typically fear but not in other dangers. Conversely, individuals who are generally anxious in mood perceive loomingness in dangers which are related to general anxiety but not in those related to spiders. Although the apparent loomingness of dangers is positively related to anxiety and specific phobic fears, it appears to be unrelated or negatively related to depression. Results of path analyses (Studies 1 and 2) and a study with an experimental methodology (Study 3) appear to be consistent with a proposed mediated sequence in which the perception of loomingness in danger helps to activate threat cognitions that lead to anxiety and fear.

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