Belonging Buffers the Impact of Cognitive Vulnerabilities on Affective Symptoms

Hannah C. Broos, Maria Llabre, Kiara R. Timpano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Social factors such as perceived social support and a sense of belonging may be protective against stress-related outcomes. It is unclear how these constructs may interact with cognitive vulnerabilities for mental health. The current study examined whether belonging and perceived social support buffered the effect of two cognitive vulnerabilities, perseverative thinking and distress intolerance, on affective symptoms. Methods: Participants (N = 1269) were Florida residents aged 18–79 years (M = 35.13, SD = 11.66) who experienced Hurricane Irma. All participants completed an online survey approximately 4–8 months post-Irma, assessing perseverative thinking, distress intolerance, and current symptoms of depression and anxiety. Participants also completed two measures of social support: belonging and perceived social support during the hurricane. Results: Belonging significantly moderated the effect of both perseverative thinking and distress intolerance on anxiety and depression, such that the relationship was weaker in those with high levels of belonging. Perceived social support did not exhibit the same moderating role for either anxiety or depression. Discussion: The results of this study suggest that belonging buffers the relationship between perseverative thinking, distress intolerance, and affective symptoms post-hurricane. Interestingly, perceived social support did not display the same buffering role. This study highlights the important role of social factors, particularly belonging, in protecting against affective symptoms following a stressor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Affective symptoms
  • Belonging
  • Distress tolerance
  • Perseverative thinking
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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