Lehrstuhl für Psychologie I - Biologische Psychologie, Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie

Generalization of fear and avoidance

Fear generalization refers to the transfer of fear to novel objects or situations that resemble the original threat cue. It is usually an adaptive process since it allows organisms to avoid novel, potential threat without requiring to learn every novel event anew. However, preliminary evidence has suggested that excessive fear generalization is a maladaptive, pathogenic process in anxiety disorders. Over-generalization of fear leads to an inaccurately inflated sense of threat, heightened state of anxiety and potentially drive counterproductive avoidance behaviours. Our research group is interested in how the generalization of fear would drive avoidance behaviours .


Exemplary and suggested publications:

Wong, A. H. K., & Pittig, A. (2020). Costly avoidance triggered by categorical fear generalization. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 129, 103606. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2020.103606

Wong, A. H. K., & Lovibond, P, F. (2018). Excessive generalisation of conditioned fear in trait anxious individuals under ambiguity. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 107, 53-63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2018.05.012