Dymond, Simon and Schlund, Michael and Roche, Bryan and Whelan , Robert and Richards, Jennifer and Davies, Cara
Inferred threat and safety: Symbolic generalization of human avoidance learning.
Behaviour Research & Therapy, xxx.
Symbolic generalization of avoidance may underlie the aetiology and maintenance of anxiety disorders.
The aim of the present study was to demonstrate inferred threat-avoidance and safety (non-avoidance)
behaviours that occur in the presence of stimuli indirectly related to learned threat and safety cues. A
laboratory experiment was conducted involving two symbolic stimulus equivalence relations consisting
of three physically dissimilar stimuli (avoidance cues: AV1eAV2eAV3 and neutral cues: N1eN2eN3).
During avoidance learning involving aversive images and sounds, a key-press avoidance response was
trained for one member of one of the relations (AV2) and non-avoidance for another (N2). Inferred threat
and safety behaviour and ratings of the likelihood of aversive events were tested with presentations of all
remaining stimuli. Findings showed a signi!cantly high percentage of avoidance to both the learned and
inferred threat cues and less avoidance to both the learned and inferred safety cues. Ratings in the
absence of avoidance were high during training and testing to threat cues and low to safety cues and
were generally lower in the presence of avoidance. Implications for associative and behavioural accounts
of avoidance, and modern therapies for anxiety disorders are discussed.
||Threat; Safety Avoidance; Symbolic generalization; Stimulus equivalence;
||Science & Engineering > Psychology
Dr. Bryan Roche
||24 Oct 2011 14:35
|Journal or Publication Title:
||Behaviour Research & Therapy
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