Skin conductance responses to masked conditioned stimuli: phylogenetic/ontogenetic factors versus direction of threat?

Anders Flykt*, Francisco Esteves, Arne Öhman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Evolutionarily old threat stimuli are likely to require less conscious information processing than threat stimuli of a more recent date. To test this proposal two differential conditioning experiments, with biological threat stimuli (e.g. snakes) in half the groups and cultural threat stimuli (e.g. guns) in the other half, were conducted. The conditioned (CS+) and the control (CS-) stimuli were backward masked during the extinction phase to prevent conscious recognition. The differential skin conductance responding for both biological and cultural threat stimuli survived the masking procedure when the conditioned stimuli were directed towards the participants (Experiment 1), but for neither type of CS when stimuli were not directed towards the participants (Experiment 2). These findings are discussed in relation to the previous finding by Öhman and co-workers and in relation to imminence of threat.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-336
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychology
Volume74
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Conditioning
  • Direction
  • Guns
  • Masking
  • Snakes
  • Threat

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