FEAR - A process influenced by concurrent processing demands
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Fear is a central aspect in mammalian evolution, prompting escape from and avoidance of threat and dangers. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that we have a well developed system to detect dangers and quickly respond to them. It has been shown that threatening information has an advantage in information processing; it seems to promote a rapid capture of selective attention and puts demand on processing resources. It has been suggested that the elicitation of fear occurs automatically, and that it is independent of and impenetrable to cognition.
The idea with the present research is that fear processing is dependent on all concurrent internal or external processing demands. One visual search study (Study II) and two secondary task studies (Study I & III) have been conducted to investigate if external or internal distraction can interfere with fear processing. In order to provoke fear responses, spider or snake fearful individuals have been exposed to pictures of their feared stimulus. The aim of Study II was to investigate if the selective attention to fear stimuli could be influenced by contextual factors, such as the nature of the distracting stimuli in a visual search. Study I and III aimed to investigate manipulation of resources allocated to fear stimuli. In Study I, task demand was used as the manipulation, and in Study III an internal cognitive directive was used. The results from these studies indicate that fear is susceptible to manipulation by both external and internal means. By changing circumstances in the surrounding or in the individuals’ internal states, responses to threatening stimuli can be altered. This means that processing of threatening stimuli is influenced by other concurrent processing demands, suggesting that a fear response is not occurring as an isolated and impenetrable process. In an evolutionary perspective, a fear system that is easily triggered but has access to cognitive evaluation at all times ought to be far more flexible, thus creating a better chance for survival than a modular and impenetrable fear system.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Östersund: Mid Sweden University , 2013. , 155 p.
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 153
Attention, Fear, Performance, Processing resources
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-19011ISBN: 978-91-87103-82-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-19011DiVA: diva2:624030
2013-05-31, F234, Campus Östersund, Hus F, Östersund, 10:00 (English)
Fox, Elaine, Professor
Sundin, Örjan, Professor
List of papers