Electromagnetic and electrostatic instabilities driven by loss-cone particle distributions have been invoked to explain a variety of plasma phenomena observed in space and in the laboratory. In this paper we analyse how the loss- cone feature (as determined by the loss-cone index or indices) influences the growth of such instabilities in a fully ionized, homogeneous, hot plasma in a uniform magnetic field. Specifically, we consider three loss-cone distributions: a generalized Lorentzian (kappa) loss-cone distribution, the Dory—Guest—Harris distribution and the Ashour-Abdalla-Kennel distribution (involving a subtracted Maxwellian). Our findings are common to all three distributions. We find that, for parallel propagation, electromagnetic instabilities are only affected by the loss-cone indices in terms of their occurrence in the temperature anisotropy. However, for oblique propagation, even including propagation at small angles to the ambient magnetic field, the loss-cone indices do independently affect the growth of instabilities for electromagnetic waves, in contrast to certain claims in the literature. For electrostatic waves such that
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