Chapter 8: Fear, Anxiety, and Stress

Summary of Fear

In the first section, we discussed the emotion components of fear and found that evidence exists for fear as both a basic and socially constructed emotion. Most eliciting events of fear relate to threat of death and map onto specific phobias. 7 AU’s change when people express fear, although Westerners show better accuracy at identifying fear from these AU’s than East Asian and isolated cultures. The scream is a universal vocal change, and a gasp may be another vocal indicator of fear. From a cognitive appraisal perspective, people universally report fear to be accompanied by the following appraisals: unexpected, unpleasantness, external causation, and inability to cope. Whether people report a fearful experience to be unfair and immoral depends on the world region. People report their subjective feelings during a fear experience to be highly unpleasant and highly arousing. Russell ‘s (1980) model shows people perceive fear to be higher in arousal and unpleasantness than anger and disgust. While Watson and Tellegen’s (1985) model shows people perceive surprise and fear to be equal in arousal, but fear to be higher in unpleasantness.  From an evolutionary standpoint, fear functions to direct our attention to threatening stimuli and the amygdala plays an important role in detecting threats to our survival. The left amygdala appears to be activated more for fear than other emotions, providing some evidence for the locationist perspective. Support for the psychological constructionist perspective suggests that although the amygdala is important to fear, other structures like the putamen and ACC are activated during a fear experience too.

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Psychology of Human Emotion by Michelle Yarwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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