Date of Award

1982

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Nelson F. Smith

Abstract

Long durations of response prevention have been shown to reduce fear in laboratory settings while short durations have been shown to enhance fear. While a review of the literature revealed a number of different parameters which affect the ability of response prevention to reduce or enhance fear, the ability of delayed presentations of the treatment to reduce fear had not been demonstrated. This study examined the effects of delayed presentations of extended response prevention on fear reduction and of short durations of RP on fear enhancement.

One hundred and forty albino rats were randomly assigned to receive extended, brief or no response prevention or to act as nonavoidance trained control subjects. Ten subjects from each treatment condition were randomly assigned to receive treatment at either l min., l, 7, or 49 days after avoidance training (except control subjects who were treated only at the shortest and longest treatment delay intervals). Fear was assessed immediately after treatment by the approach measures, approach latency and total grid time.

Results consistant with previous findings indicated that fear was reduced following extended durations of response prevention but, unlike previous research, no fear enhancement resulting from brief response prevention was shown. Further, extended treatment was found to produce levels of fear statistically equivalent to controls. Most important, the data suggest that extended response prevention was as effective in reducing fear after long delays as when applied immediately after training when the memory of avoidance training remained strong. Implications for therapy analogues were discussed.

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