The influence of state anxiety on the acquisition and extinction of fear

Vriends, N. and Michael, T. and Blechert, J. and Meyer, A. H. and Margraf, J. and Wilhelm, F. H.. (2011) The influence of state anxiety on the acquisition and extinction of fear. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry, 42 (1). pp. 46-53.

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Objective: Fear conditionability has been found to be elevated in samples with high trait anxiety or anxiety disorders. Since these studies provide circumstantial evidence for a causal link between anxiety and conditionability we examined fear conditionability after experimental induction of anxiety in two experiments. Method: In Experiment 1, 60 participants were randomized to one of two film conditions inducing an anxious or happy emotional state. They subsequently underwent a differential conditioning acquisition procedure. Two pictures of faces served as conditioned stimuli (CS+ and CS-), and an electric stimulus served as aversive unconditioned stimulus (US). In Experiment 2, after similar acquisition procedure as used in Experiment 1, 90 participants watched one of three films (anxious, neutral, happy) prior to an extinction procedure. In both studies, skin conductance response (SCR) served as measure of fearful responding. Results: Conditioning was successful in both studies. In Experiment 1, the anxious group exhibited decreased SCRs to both CS+ and CS- during acquisition. In Experiment 2, during extinction SCRs to both CSs were highest in the anxious group, intermediate in the neutral, and lowest in the happy group. Discussion: : State anxiety did not enhance conditionability during acquisition or reduce the extinction procedure. However, individuals in an anxious state show less responding during fear learning, but more responding during unlearning. Thus, our results suggest that state anxiety changes the sensitivity with which individuals react to stimuli presented in different contexts.
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Ehemalige Einheiten Psychologie > Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie (Margraf)
UniBasel Contributors:Vriends, Noortje and Michael, Tanja and Wilhelm, Frank H and Margraf, J├╝rgen and Meyer, Andrea Hans
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:28 Sep 2017 14:52
Deposited On:14 Sep 2012 07:03

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