ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 4, Issue 4, 315-324, 2013
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Increasing the Selectivity of Threat through Post-Training Instructions: Identifying One Stimulus as Source of Danger Reduces the Threat Value of Surrounding Stimuli

Yannick Boddez(a), Frank Baeyens(a), Dirk Hermans(a), Saskia Van der Oord(b), Tom Beckers(b)
(a) KU Leuven
(b) KU Leuven and University of Amsterdam

Volume 4, Issue 4, 2013, Pages 315-324

The present study aimed to investigate whether instructional threat information can be used to remediate overgeneral threat appraisal. We investigated whether identifying one specific stimulus as cause of danger might reduce threat value of other stimuli that were present during an aversive conditioning event. Participants were shown two neutral stimuli, followed by an aversive shock. After the training phase, instructions informed the participants that one of the two stimuli was causative for the occurrence of the shock. Threat appraisal of the stimuli was measured through shock-expectancy ratings and skin conductance. Results demonstrate that identifying one stimulus as cause of shock successfully reduced shock-expectancy to the other stimulus that preceded the aversive shock event. The study suggests that singling out one stimulus as cause of danger decreases the threat value of other stimuli that were present during an aversive conditioning event, which makes it a potentially interesting strategy for the treatment of clinical anxiety.

Table of Contents
Apparatus and stimuli
Skin conductance.
US aversiveness.
Credibility of threat information and memory for compounds.
US aversiveness, credibility of threat information and memory for compounds
Conditioning effects

Correspondence to
Tom Beckers, Department of Psychology, KU Leuven, Tiensestraat 102 box 3712, 3000 Leuven, Belgium

backward blocking, selective attribution, threat reduction, generalization, anxiety disorders

Received 30 Apr 2012; Revised 21 Jan 2013; Accepted 22 Jan 2013; In Press 21 Jul 2013

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