Across four studies, we applied the cognitive model of anxiety (Clark & Beck, 2010) to explicate the appraisals that elicit collective angst (i.e., concern for the ingroup's future vitality). In Study 1a, consistent with the model, Québécois experienced collective angst when they appraised a threat 1) as likely to harm their group, 2) as severely harming their group, and 3) appraised Québécois as not having efficacy to protect their group. In Study 1b, results were replicated in the context of the realistic threat that Islamic extremists pose to Christian‐Lebanese. In Studies 2a and 2b, we manipulated the three appraisals and found a similar pattern of results in the context of a potential terrorist attack on American soil by Islamic extremists. Importantly, collective angst mediated the threat appraisal effect on (non‐Muslim) Americans' prejudice towards Muslims. The utility of the appraisal model for regulating collective angst (and thus its consequences) are discussed.