Transfer of conditioned fear and avoidance: Concurrent measurement of arousal and operant responding

Miguel Rodríguez-Valverde, Carmen Luciano, Dermot Barnes-Holmes, Mónica Hernández-López

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A reversal design was employed for the analysis of transfer of fear and avoidance through equivalence classes. Two 5-member equivalence classes (A1-B1-C1-D1-E1 and A2-B2-C2-D2-E2) were established. Then B1 and C1 were paired with shock (CS+) and served as SDs in avoidance training (B2 and C2 were trained as CS-/Ss for avoidance). Further avoidance training followed with D1 and E1 (as SDs) and D2 and E2 (as Ss), with the first presentation of each of these stimuli serving as the first transfer test. Afterwards, aversive conditioning contingencies were reversed: B2 and D2 were paired with shock and trained as SDs for avoidance, B1 and D1 were presented without shock (CS-/Ss). Transfer was tested again with C1, E1, C2 and E2. This reversal was implemented to allow for the within-subject replication of transfer effects upon changes in the function of only a subset of each class's elements. Avoidance (key presses) and conditioned fear (skin conductance and heart rate) were simultaneously measured. Results show a clear transfer effect for avoidance, with between- and within-subject replications. For physiological measures, transfer effects in the first test could only be imputed on the basis of group-based inferential statistical analysis. Evidence for between-subject replication was weaker, with only a limited proportion of participants meeting the individual criterion for transfer.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Early online date3 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • avoidance
  • fear conditioning
  • heart rate
  • skin conductance
  • stimulus equivalence
  • transfer of functions

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