The representation of feared outcomes

Peter F. Lovibond*, Ronald M. Rapee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


A list of negative outcomes (harmful events) was constructed to investigate the nature and organization of outcome concerns in anxiety. In Study 1, analysis of worry frequency ratings for the 116 negative outcomes revealed two major correlated factors corresponding to physical outcomes (harm or misfortune) and social outcomes (negative evaluation). These higher-order factors could be further subdivided into smaller discrete categories of related concerns. Ratings of worry frequency were higher for social outcomes. Trait anxiety was associated with both physical and social concerns, but stress and depression were primarily associated with social concerns. In Study 2, aversiveness ratings for the 116 negative outcomes followed the same physical-social organization and formed similar lower-order categories. Unlike the worry frequency ratings, aversiveness ratings were higher for physical than social categories, and did not correlate substantially with trait measures of depression, anxiety or stress. In Study 3, a short (24-item) negative outcome questionnaire was developed to discriminate between concerns about physical and social outcomes. The Physical Scale correlated substantially with the Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI) but not the Fear of Negative Evaluation (FNE), whereas the Social Scale correlated with the FNE but not the ASI. The Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ), which assesses worry frequency but not content, correlated only with the Social Scale. Implications for theories of normal and clinical anxiety are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-608
Number of pages14
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


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