|FEAR EXPRESSION AND RETURN OF FEAR FOLLOWING THREAT INSTRUCTION WITH OR WITHOUT DIRECT CONTINGENCY EXPERIENCE
|Jan De Houwer
Mertens, G., Kuhn, M., Raes, A. K., Kalisch, R., De Houwer, J., & Lonsdorf, T. B. (In press). Fear expression and the return of fear following threat instruction with or without direct contingency experience. Cognition and Emotion. Prior research showed that mere instructions about the contingency between a Conditioned Stimulus (CS) and an Unconditioned Stimulus (US) can generate fear reactions to the CS. Little is known, however, about the extent to which actual CS-US contingency experience adds anything beyond the effect of contingency instructions. Our results extend previous studies on this topic in that it included fear potentiated startle as an additional dependent variable and examined return of fear following reinstatement. We observed that CS-US pairings can enhance fear reactions beyond the effect of contingency instructions. Moreover, for all measures of fear, instructions elicited immediate fear reactions that could not be completely overridden by subsequent situational safety information. Finally, return of fear following reinstatement for instructed CS+s was unaffected by actual experience. In sum, our results demonstrate the power of contingency instructions and reveal the additional impact of actual experience of CS-US pairings.