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Human fear conditioning is moderated by stimulus contingency instructions

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Abstract
Recent research findings indicate that human fear conditioning is affected by instructions, particularly those concerning the contingency between the conditioned stimulus (CS) and the unconditioned stimulus (US). However, whether or not such instructions were provided to participants often remains unsaid in fear conditioning studies. In the current study (N = 102), we investigated whether conditioned fear acquisition depends on CS-US contingency instructions. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first group was instructed about the precise CS-US contingency before conditioning. The second group was instructed to discover the CS-US contingency. The third group did not receive any contingency instructions. We found facilitated fear acquisition (using skin conductance and startle) and increased contingency awareness in the first and second group compared to the third group. Furthermore, contingency reversal instructions immediately reversed conditioned responses. Based on these results, we advise to systematically report the contingency instructions used in fear conditioning research.
Keywords
SKIN-CONDUCTANCE, EXTINCTION, AWARENESS, REVERSAL, ANXIETY, RECALL, THREAT, UNCERTAINTY, INTOLERANCE, RESPONSES, Fear conditioning, Replicability, Instructions, Psychophysiology

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MLA
Mertens, Gaetan, et al. “Human Fear Conditioning Is Moderated by Stimulus Contingency Instructions.” BIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY, vol. 158, 2021, doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2020.107994.
APA
Mertens, G., Boddez, Y., Krypotos, A.-M., & Engelhard, I. M. (2021). Human fear conditioning is moderated by stimulus contingency instructions. BIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY, 158. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2020.107994
Chicago author-date
Mertens, Gaetan, Yannick Boddez, Angelos-Miltiadis Krypotos, and Iris M. Engelhard. 2021. “Human Fear Conditioning Is Moderated by Stimulus Contingency Instructions.” BIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY 158. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2020.107994.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Mertens, Gaetan, Yannick Boddez, Angelos-Miltiadis Krypotos, and Iris M. Engelhard. 2021. “Human Fear Conditioning Is Moderated by Stimulus Contingency Instructions.” BIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY 158. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2020.107994.
Vancouver
1.
Mertens G, Boddez Y, Krypotos A-M, Engelhard IM. Human fear conditioning is moderated by stimulus contingency instructions. BIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY. 2021;158.
IEEE
[1]
G. Mertens, Y. Boddez, A.-M. Krypotos, and I. M. Engelhard, “Human fear conditioning is moderated by stimulus contingency instructions,” BIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY, vol. 158, 2021.
@article{8697927,
  abstract     = {Recent research findings indicate that human fear conditioning is affected by instructions, particularly those concerning the contingency between the conditioned stimulus (CS) and the unconditioned stimulus (US). However, whether or not such instructions were provided to participants often remains unsaid in fear conditioning studies. In the current study (N = 102), we investigated whether conditioned fear acquisition depends on CS-US contingency instructions. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first group was instructed about the precise CS-US contingency before conditioning. The second group was instructed to discover the CS-US contingency. The third group did not receive any contingency instructions. We found facilitated fear acquisition (using skin conductance and startle) and increased contingency awareness in the first and second group compared to the third group. Furthermore, contingency reversal instructions immediately reversed conditioned responses. Based on these results, we advise to systematically report the contingency instructions used in fear conditioning research.},
  articleno    = {107994},
  author       = {Mertens, Gaetan and Boddez, Yannick and Krypotos, Angelos-Miltiadis and Engelhard, Iris M.},
  issn         = {0301-0511},
  journal      = {BIOLOGICAL PSYCHOLOGY},
  keywords     = {SKIN-CONDUCTANCE,EXTINCTION,AWARENESS,REVERSAL,ANXIETY,RECALL,THREAT,UNCERTAINTY,INTOLERANCE,RESPONSES,Fear conditioning,Replicability,Instructions,Psychophysiology},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {10},
  title        = {Human fear conditioning is moderated by stimulus contingency instructions},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2020.107994},
  volume       = {158},
  year         = {2021},
}

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