Title: Generalization of fear and avoidance along a semantic continuum
Authors: Boyle, S ×
Roche, B
Dymond, S
Hermans, Dirk #
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Series Title: Cognition & Emotion vol:30 issue:2 pages:340-352
Abstract: Directly conditioned fear and avoidance readily generalizes to dissimilar but conceptually related stimuli. Here, for the first time, we examined the conceptual/semantic generalization of both fear and avoidance using real words (synonyms). Participants were first exposed to a differential fear conditioning procedure in which one word (e.g., “broth”; CS+) was followed with brief electric shock (unconditioned stimulus, US) and another was not (e.g., “assist”; CS-). Next, an instrumental conditioning phase taught avoidance in the presence the CS+ but not the CS-. During generalization testing, synonyms of the CS+ (e.g., “soup”; GCS+) and CS- (e.g., “help”; GCS-) were presented in the absence of shock. Conditioned fear and avoidance, measured via skin conductance responses, behavioral avoidance and US expectancy ratings, generalized to the semantically related, but not to the semantically unrelated, synonyms. Findings have implications for how natural language categories and concepts mediate the expansion of fear and avoidance repertoires in clinical contexts.
ISSN: 0269-9931
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Centre for Psychology of Learning and Experimental Psychopathology
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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