Some animal specific fears are more specific than others: evidence from attention and emotion measures

Sandra C. Soares*, Francisco Esteves, Daniel Lundqvist, Arne Öhman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Using a visual search methodology we investigated the effect of feared animal stimuli on attention. Our results confirmed the important role of emotion on attention. All participants detected fear-relevant stimuli (snakes and spiders) faster than neutral (mushrooms) ones against a background of fruits. In addition, spider fearful participants were sensitized specifically to detect their feared stimulus (spiders), compared to their fear-relevant but non-feared (snakes) and neutral stimuli. However, for participants fearful of snakes there was no significant difference in detection latencies between the feared (snakes) and the fear-relevant but non-feared animal stimuli (spiders). The results from the attention task were mirrored in the emotional ratings, which showed that spider fear was highly specific, whereas snake fear was associated with a more generalized enhanced evaluation of all negative stimuli.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1032-1042
Number of pages11
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Volume47
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Animal fear
  • Emotional ratings
  • Perceptual load
  • Visual search

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