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Measuring Fear: Association among different measures of fear learning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Elena Constantinou, Kirstin Purves, Tom McGregor, Kathryn J. Lester, Tom Barry, Michael Treanor, Michelle G. Craske, Thalia Eley

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Accepted/In press21 Sep 2020


  • Association among measures of fear_JBTEP_final

    Association_among_measures_of_fear_JBTEP_final.docx, 413 KB, application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document

    Uploaded date:07 Oct 2020

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

    Licence:CC BY-NC-ND

King's Authors


Background and Objectives: Fear conditioning paradigms use various measures to assess learned fear, including autonomic arousal responses like skin conductance, and self-reports of both associative (US-expectancies) and evaluative (affective ratings) learning. The present study uses a dimensional approach to examine associations among fear indices directly.
Methods: Seventy-three participants completed a differential fear conditioning experiment, during which a neutral stimulus (CS+) was paired with an electric shock (US), while another stimulus (CS-) was never paired with the shock (partially instructed fear acquisition). Ten minutes later, both stimuli were presented without any shocks (fear extinction). Skin conductance responses and US-expectancy ratings were recorded during each phase, while self-reported negative affect was assessed at the end of extinction.
Results: Results showed a positive association among US-expectancy ratings and skin conductance responses during acquisition and early extinction. US-expectancy ratings during overall extinction were positively associated with post-extinction negative affect.
Limitations: The lack of affective ratings post-acquisition may have obscured associations between associative and evaluative learning indices.
Conclusions: Results provide evidence for the expected correspondence among different indices of associative fear learning. Findings emphasize the need for incorporating both associative and evaluative learning measures in fear conditioning paradigms.

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