Learned Fear of “Unseen” Faces after Pavlovian, Observational, and Instructed Fear

  title={Learned Fear of “Unseen” Faces after Pavlovian, Observational, and Instructed Fear},
  author={Andreas Olsson and Elizabeth A. Phelps},
  journal={Psychological Science},
  pages={822 - 828}
This study compared fear learning acquired through direct experience (Pavlovian conditioning) and fear learning acquired without direct experience via either observation or verbal instruction. We examined whether these three types of learning yielded differential responses to conditioned stimuli (CS+) that were presented unmasked (available to explicit awareness) or masked (not available to explicit awareness). In the Pavlovian group, the CS+ was paired with a mild shock, whereas the… 

Figures from this paper

Learned, instructed and observed pathways to fear and avoidance.

Observational learning of fear in real time procedure

It is concluded that the real-time procedure can be effectively used to study OFL, and allowed for dissecting two components of the OFL: an automatic emotional reaction to the response of the demonstrator and learning about stimulus contingency.

The Neurocircuitry Underlying Additive Effects of Safety Instruction on Extinction Learning

It is suggested that the addition of cognitive instruction yields greater activation of emotion regulation and reappraisal networks during extinction learning.

Pattern Analyses Reveal Separate Experience-Based Fear Memories in the Human Right Amygdala

This study addressed a fundamental problem of the science of human fear learning and memory, namely whetherFear learning via experience in humans relies on a neural pathway that can be separated from fear learning via verbal information, by localized purely experience-based fear processing and memory in the right amygdala.

Observed but Never Experienced – Vicarious Learning of Fear Under Ecological Conditions

It is concluded that observational fear learning involves two components: an automatic emotional reaction to the response of the demonstrator and learning to predict stimulus contingency (CS+/US pairing).

SELECTIVE CONDITIONING VIA INSTRUCTIONS 3 Prepared fear conditioning via verbal instructions 1

The research presented in this article addresses the question whether selective learning effects can be obtained even when participants do not experience pairings of CSs and US but receive only instructions about those pairings, and obtained facilitated acquisition for the merely instructed fear-relevant CS+.

Can prepared fear conditioning result from verbal instructions

Spontaneous eye movements and trait empathy predict vicarious learning of fear.

Instructed fear learning, extinction, and recall: additive effects of cognitive information on emotional learning of fear

It is indicated that contingency information can facilitate fear expression during fear learning, and can facilitate extinction learning and recall.

Observational learning and pain-related fear: an experimental study with colored cold pressor tasks.




Effects of instruction on acquisition and extinction of electrodermal responses to fear-relevant stimuli.

  • K. HugdahlA. Ohman
  • Psychology, Biology
    Journal of experimental psychology. Human learning and memory
  • 1977
Instruction had a symmetrical effect on acquisition and extinction to fear-irrelevant stimuli, whereas it facilitated acquisition but was ineffective in reducing responding to the other class of stimuli.

Modeling processes in the acquisition of fears: vicarious electrodermal conditioning to fear-relevant stimuli.

  • S. HyggeA. Ohman
  • Psychology, Biology
    Journal of personality and social psychology
  • 1978
The responses to the stimulus that was paired with the model's phobic stimulus, that is, the vicariously conditioned responses, failed to extinguish during the second part of the experiment when it was fear-relevant but extinguished immediately when it is fear-irrelevant.

Conscious and unconscious emotional learning in the human amygdala

The results indicate that the human amygdala can discriminate between stimuli solely on the basis of their acquired behavioural significance, and second, this response is lateralized according to the subjects' level of awareness of the stimuli.

Differential conditioning to facial emotional expressions: effects of hemispheric asymmetries and CS identification.

The results revealed that both negative and positive facial expressions could be aversively conditioned providing evidence for a generalization of learning in the valence dimension and confirm and further specify the nature of hemispheric asymmetries in emotional associative learning.

On the automatic nature of phobic fear: conditioned electrodermal responses to masked fear-relevant stimuli.

In support of a hypothesis that suggests that nonconscious information-processing mechanisms are sufficient to activate responses to fear-relevant stimuli, differential skin conductance response to masked conditioning and control stimuli was obvious only for subjects conditioned toFear- relevant stimuli.

Activation of the left amygdala to a cognitive representation of fear

The results suggest that the neural substrates that support conditioned fear across species have a similar but somewhat different role in more abstract representations of fear in humans.

Mechanisms involved in the observational conditioning of fear.

  • S. MinekaM. Cook
  • Psychology, Biology
    Journal of experimental psychology. General
  • 1993
Three experiments support the hypothesis that mechanisms involved in observational conditioning (OC) of fear are similar to those of direct classical conditioning and involve the organism attempting

Automatically elicited fear: Conditioned skin conductance responses to masked facial expressions

Abstract This study examined automatic elicitation of conditioned skin conductance responses (SCRs), when a backward masking procedure prevented the subject's conscious awareness of the conditioned

Nonconscious Fear Conditioning, Visceral Perception, and the Development of Gut Feelings

The results showed that subjects who could detect their heartbeats performed better than chance in predicting whether or not they would receive a shock during the conditioning task, and support the notion that hunches, or “gut feelings,” are based in part on the perception of visceral cues.

Fears, phobias, and preparedness: toward an evolved module of fear and fear learning.

The fear module is assumed to mediate an emotional level of fear learning that is relatively independent and dissociable from cognitive learning of stimulus relationships.