Journal of Experimental Psychopathology vol:4 issue:4 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.