- Avoidance: From threat encounter to action execution
- Award date
- 8 December 2015
- Number of pages
- ’s-Hertogenbosch: Boxpress
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Every day we encounter many threats to survival: a car speeding on a small street or an angry neighbor carrying an axe. Mostly, people go through their days not worrying that their chance of survival might be small. They avoid many dangers without even thinking about them (e.g., looking at both sides of the street before crossing; adaptive avoidance). However, there are people who are so afraid that they avoid many activities in order to reduce the chance of something bad happening. For example, a person with a spider phobia might never go to his basement, because there might be spiders. He might also never read the book Charlotte’s Web (White & DiCamillo, 1952) for his children. Such excessive avoidance behavior can have a negative effect on the functioning of the individual. Research on threat avoidance can help us understand how adaptive avoidance becomes maladaptive. Then, we could use this information for improving current treatments for clinically severe anxiety and maladaptive avoidance.
In this doctoral dissertation: "Avoidance: From threat encounter to action execution", we introduce a new model for threat avoidance response selection and execution (TeARS). Afterwards, we present a number of empirical studies, in which we test specific hypotheses deducted from the TeARS model. Lastly, we explore how the TeARS model can be used to improve treatments for anxiety and avoidance. In this summary, we discuss the most important ideas of this dissertation.
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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