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Social and Physiological Cognates of Looming Vulnerability to Anxiety

College of William and Mary
Publication Date
  • Psychology
  • Anxiety
  • Biology


The looming vulnerability model posits that the experience of anxiety is based on the anticipation that feared stimuli are rapidly approaching and intensifying rather than remaining stable. The present study examined several possible social and physiological cognates of looming vulnerability including attachment anxiety and avoidance in adult relationships, parental care and overprotection, intrusions, and physiological reactivity to chosen film clips. Results showed that adult relationship anxiety, but not avoidance, was associated with higher levels of looming vulnerability. Results did not show a significant relationship between parental bonding, physiological reactivity, or intrusions and looming vulnerability. Implications of the experimental mediums chosen are discussed in relation to the looming construct along with directions for future research.

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