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Higher threat avoidance costs reduce avoidance behaviour which in turn promotes fear extinction in humans.
Behav Res Ther. 2017 Sep; 96:37-46.BR

Abstract

Theoretical models specifying the underlying mechanisms of the development and maintenance of anxiety and related disorders state that fear responses acquired through classical Pavlovian conditioning are maintained by repeated avoidance behaviour; thus, it is assumed that avoidance prevents fear extinction. The present study investigated behavioural avoidance decisions as a function of avoidance costs in a naturalistic fear conditioning paradigm. Ecologically valid avoidance costs - manipulated between participant groups - were represented via time-delays during a detour in a gamified computer task. After differential acquisitions of shock-expectancy to a predictive conditioned stimulus (CS+), participants underwent extinction where they could either take a risky shortcut, while anticipating shock signaled by the CS+, or choose a costly avoidance option (lengthy detour); thus, they were faced with an approach-avoidance conflict. Groups with higher avoidance costs (longer detours) showed lower proportions of avoiders. Avoiders gave heightened shock-expectancy ratings post-extinction, demonstrating 'protecting from extinction', i.e. failure to extinguish. Moreover, there was an indirect effect of avoidance costs on protection from extinction through avoidance behaviour. No moderating role of trait-anxiety was found. Theoretical implications of avoidance behaviour are discussed, considering the involvement of instrumental learning in the maintenance of fear responses.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Division of Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy and Health Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria. Electronic address: julina.rattel@sbg.ac.at.Division of Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy and Health Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria.Division of Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy and Health Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria; Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria.Division of Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy and Health Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

28034445

Citation

Rattel, Julina A., et al. "Higher Threat Avoidance Costs Reduce Avoidance Behaviour Which in Turn Promotes Fear Extinction in Humans." Behaviour Research and Therapy, vol. 96, 2017, pp. 37-46.
Rattel JA, Miedl SF, Blechert J, et al. Higher threat avoidance costs reduce avoidance behaviour which in turn promotes fear extinction in humans. Behav Res Ther. 2017;96:37-46.
Rattel, J. A., Miedl, S. F., Blechert, J., & Wilhelm, F. H. (2017). Higher threat avoidance costs reduce avoidance behaviour which in turn promotes fear extinction in humans. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 96, 37-46. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2016.12.010
Rattel JA, et al. Higher Threat Avoidance Costs Reduce Avoidance Behaviour Which in Turn Promotes Fear Extinction in Humans. Behav Res Ther. 2017;96:37-46. PubMed PMID: 28034445.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Higher threat avoidance costs reduce avoidance behaviour which in turn promotes fear extinction in humans. AU - Rattel,Julina A, AU - Miedl,Stephan F, AU - Blechert,Jens, AU - Wilhelm,Frank H, Y1 - 2016/12/15/ PY - 2016/07/08/received PY - 2016/12/05/revised PY - 2016/12/13/accepted PY - 2016/12/31/pubmed PY - 2018/4/28/medline PY - 2016/12/31/entrez KW - Aetiology KW - Classical conditioning KW - Decision-making KW - Operant conditioning KW - Risk KW - Safety signal SP - 37 EP - 46 JF - Behaviour research and therapy JO - Behav Res Ther VL - 96 N2 - Theoretical models specifying the underlying mechanisms of the development and maintenance of anxiety and related disorders state that fear responses acquired through classical Pavlovian conditioning are maintained by repeated avoidance behaviour; thus, it is assumed that avoidance prevents fear extinction. The present study investigated behavioural avoidance decisions as a function of avoidance costs in a naturalistic fear conditioning paradigm. Ecologically valid avoidance costs - manipulated between participant groups - were represented via time-delays during a detour in a gamified computer task. After differential acquisitions of shock-expectancy to a predictive conditioned stimulus (CS+), participants underwent extinction where they could either take a risky shortcut, while anticipating shock signaled by the CS+, or choose a costly avoidance option (lengthy detour); thus, they were faced with an approach-avoidance conflict. Groups with higher avoidance costs (longer detours) showed lower proportions of avoiders. Avoiders gave heightened shock-expectancy ratings post-extinction, demonstrating 'protecting from extinction', i.e. failure to extinguish. Moreover, there was an indirect effect of avoidance costs on protection from extinction through avoidance behaviour. No moderating role of trait-anxiety was found. Theoretical implications of avoidance behaviour are discussed, considering the involvement of instrumental learning in the maintenance of fear responses. SN - 1873-622X UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/28034445/Higher_threat_avoidance_costs_reduce_avoidance_behaviour_which_in_turn_promotes_fear_extinction_in_humans_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0005-7967(16)30221-2 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -