The association between looming cognitive style and posttraumatic stress symptoms: The case of older Holocaust survivors

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The looming cognitive style (LCS) refers to a tendency to produce mental illustrations and images of adverse events and potentially threatening situations with perceived accumulating threat and danger. LCS is a well-known cognitive vulnerability for anxiety, nevertheless few studies examined the relationship between LCS and posttraumatic reactions. Among the existing studies, a higher LCS was reported in Holocaust survivors relative to matched comparisons, and directly associated with posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in older Holocaust survivors. The current study aimed to expand the understanding of the relationship between LCS with PTSS in general, and among older Holocaust survivors in particular. Moreover, whether the number of Holocaust experiences encountered by Holocaust survivors moderated this relationship. The sample consisted of 153 older Holocaust survivors (Mage = 82.42, SD = 5.75). Participants were interviewed regarding their background characteristics, PTSS, LCS, and number of Holocaust experiences. Participants reporting higher LCS showed higher PTSS. There was an interaction between LCS and number of Holocaust experiences for predicting PTSS, suggesting that LCS was associated with higher PTSS to a stronger degree among Holocaust survivors who experienced a smaller number of Holocaust experiences. The findings indicate that Holocaust trauma may have influenced the LCS of Holocaust survivors throughout their lives and into old age. The results provide insight for mental health practitioners treating older Holocaust survivors in focusing on reducing schematic processing biases for threat information and anxiety to enhance better mental health for those suffering from posttraumatic stress symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Research
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • Holocaust experience
  • Holocaust survivors
  • Looming cognitive style
  • Posttraumatic stress symptoms

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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