Mineka S, Zinbarg R. A contemporary learning theory perspective on the etiology of anxiety disorders-It's not what you thought it was. Am Psychol 61: 10-26

Department of PsychologyNorthwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208-2710, USA.
American Psychologist (Impact Factor: 6.87). 02/2006; 61(1):10-26. DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.61.1.10
Source: PubMed


The authors describe how contemporary learning theory and research provide the basis for perspectives on the etiology and maintenance of anxiety disorders that capture the complexity associated with individual differences in the development and course of these disorders. These insights from modern research on learning overcome the shortcomings of earlier overly simplistic behavioral approaches, which sometimes have been justifiably criticized. The authors show how considerations of early learning histories and temperamental vulnerabilities affect the short- and long-term outcomes of experiences with stressful events. They also demonstrate how contextual variables during and following stressful learning events affect the course of anxiety disorder symptoms once they develop. This range of variables can lead to a rich and nuanced understanding of the etiology and course of anxiety disorders.

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    • "Theorists (Skinner, 1953; Mineka & Zinbarg, 2006) have argued that the aetiology of anxiety lies in conditioning, for example in the study of music this conditioning may be the result of a variety of learning experiences. The strength of conditioning may be affected by pre-event variables or post-event variables (Mineka & Zinbarg, 2006). In a music performance context, pre-event variables include the level of musical preparation and level of interaction with important others, such as peers, parents or teachers. "
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    ABSTRACT: There is an increasing body of evidence that the prevalence of music performance anxiety (MPA) and perfectionism in populations of adult musicians is high, and that both conditions impact negatively on the psychological health and wellbeing of musicians. There is scant evidence on the origins of these two conditions in student populations. The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence and developmental trajectory of MPA and perfectionism in a population of school age children. A sample of 526 students (male n = 291; female n = 235) across Grades 5–12 at a private school on the outskirts of Melbourne, Victoria were administered two questionnaires, the Music Performance Anxiety Inventory for Adolescents (MPAI-A; Osborne & Kenny, 2005) which measures the somatic, cognitive and behavioural components of MPA, and the Child Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale (C-MPS; DeKryger, 2005). The C-MPS measures the multidimensional components of perfectionism in children, such as Concern over Mistakes, Organisation, Parental Expectations, and Doubts about Actions. The correlation between MPA and perfectionism by age showed a consistently strong, positive and highly significant relationship from 10 through to 17 years of age, particularly for Concern over Mistakes. The second significant relationship between MPA and perfectionism applied to gender, with females experiencing a steeper and more intense developmental trajectory than males. The third important finding of the research was that levels of MPA and perfectionism increase with years of experience. This study has implications for teachers and psychologists working with young students of music.
    Performance Enhancement and Health 11/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.peh.2015.09.003
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    • "Fear conditioning and extinction are considered to provide laboratory analogues for the acquisition of fear and phobias and the subsequent reduction of fear via exposure-based therapy (Field, 2006; Mineka & Zinbarg, 2006). Whereas fear conditioning refers to the acquisition of fear for a Conditioned Stimulus (CS) due to the pairing of the CS with an aversive Unconditioned Stimulus (US), extinction refers to the reduction of conditioned fear through the repeated unreinforced presentation of a CS after the CS-US pairings. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background and Objectives: Repeated exposure to a conditioned stimulus can lead to a reduction of conditioned fear responses towards this stimulus (i.e., extinction). However, this reduction is often fragile and sensitive to contextual changes. In the current study, we investigated whether extinction of fear responses established through verbal threat instructions is also sensitive to contextual changes. We additionally examined whether verbal instructions can strengthen the effects of a context change. Methods: Fifty-two participants were informed that one colored rectangle would be predictive of an electrocutaneous stimulus, while another colored rectangle was instructed to be safe. Half of these participants were additionally informed that this contingency would only hold when the background of the computer screen had a particular color but not when it had another color. After these instructions, the participants went through an unannounced extinction phase that was followed by a context switch. Results: Results indicate that extinguished verbally conditioned fear responses can return after a context switch, although only as indexed by self-reported expectancy ratings. This effect was stronger when participants were told that CS-US contingency would depend on the background color, in which case a return of fear was also observed on physiological measures of fear. Limitations: Extinction was not very pronounced in this study, possibly limiting the extent to which return of fear could be observed on physiological measures. Conclusions: Contextual cues can impact the return of fear established via verbal instructions. Verbal instructions can further strengthen the contextual control of fear.
    Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 11/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.jbtep.2015.11.001 · 2.23 Impact Factor
    • "According to the current fear - avoidance models pain - related fear plays a pivotal role in the development of chronic musculoskeletal pain and disability ( Crombez , Eccleston , Van Damme , Vlaeyen , & Karoly , 2012 ; Vlaeyen & Linton , 2000 , 2012 ). Contemporary models of associative learning offer a rich conceptual framework to shed light on the origins , maintenance and treatment of human fear and anxiety ( Craske , Hermans , & Vansteenwegen , 2006 ; Lovibond , 2011 ; Mineka & Zinbarg , 2006 ) . In particular , the human fear conditioning paradigm has been employed extensively as a laboratory model to investigate the development and treatment of fears and phobias ( Craske et al. , 2006 ) . "

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