| Volume 8, Issue 4, 390-412, 2017 |
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|Can threat information bias fear learning? Some tentative results and methodological considerations|
| Gaëtan Mertens - Ghent University|
| Jan De Houwer - Ghent University|
|Volume 8, Issue 4, 2017, Pages 390-412|
Whereas it is widely recognized that both verbal threat information and stimulus pairings can install strong and persistent fear, few studies have addressed the interaction between these two pathways of fear. According to the expectancy bias of Davey (1992, 1997), verbal information can install expectancy biases for aversive events that can result in facilitated fear learning through stimulus pairings and can delay extinction of fear. However, these predictions of the expectancy bias account have not been explored fully. Following up on two earlier studies (Field & Storksen-Coulson, 2007; Ugland, Dyson, & Field, 2013), we investigated the impact of prior threat information on fear acquisition, extinction and reinstatement. To this aim, 77 participants received instructions about four unfamiliar animals, two of which that were described as dangerous whereas the other two were described as harmless. One animal of each pair was subsequently paired with an electrical stimulus according to either a continuous or a partial reinforcement schedule. Our results indicated that threat information resulted in stronger fear responses prior to fear conditioning and in delayed extinction of fear, especially in the partial reinforcement condition. We argue that these results are in line with the expectancy bias model.
|Table of Contents|
Fear Potentiated Startle (FPS)
Threat Instructions and Test
Acquisition, Extinction and Reinstatement Phase.
Fear and Believability Ratings.
Data Reduction and Analysis
Believ ability of The Information and Familiarity with the Animals
US expectancy ratings
English Translation of the Dutch Threat Information:
|dr. Gaëtan Mertens |
|Instructions; Bias; Threat; Fear Conditioning; Extinction; Reinstatement; Expectancies; Startle Response; Skin Conductance Response |
|Received 29 Oct 2016; Revised 13 Jul 2017; Accepted 13 Jul 2017; In Press 22 Jul 2017 |