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    Generalisation of fear and avoidance along a semantic continuum

    Boyle, Sean and Roche, Bryan and Dymond, Simon and Hermans, Dirk (2015) Generalisation of fear and avoidance along a semantic continuum. Cognition and Emotion. ISSN 1464-0600

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    Directly conditioned fear and avoidance readily generalises to dissimilar but conceptually related stimuli. Here, for the first time, we examined the conceptual/semantic generalisation 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 generalisation 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, behavioural avoidance and US expectancy ratings, generalised 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.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Fear conditioning; Avoidance; Generalisation; Semantic generalisation;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Science and Engineering > Psychology
    Item ID: 6818
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: Dr. Bryan Roche
    Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 15:01
    Journal or Publication Title: Cognition and Emotion
    Publisher: Taylor & Francis
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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