Contributions of diagnostic, cognitive, and somatovisceral information to the prediction of fear ratings in spider phobic and non-spider-fearful individuals.

Aue, Tatjana; Hoeppli, Marie-Eve; Scharnowski, Frank; Steyrl, David (2021). Contributions of diagnostic, cognitive, and somatovisceral information to the prediction of fear ratings in spider phobic and non-spider-fearful individuals. Journal of Affective Disorders, 294, pp. 296-304. Elsevier 10.1016/j.jad.2021.07.040

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Background
Physiological responding is a key characteristic of fear responses. Yet, it is unknown whether the time-consuming measurement of somatovisceral responses ameliorates the prediction of individual fear responses beyond the accuracy reached by the consideration of diagnostic (e.g., phobic vs. non phobic) and cognitive (e.g., risk estimation) factors, which can be more easily assessed.

Method
We applied a machine learning approach to data of an experiment, in which spider phobic and non-spider fearful participants (diagnostic factor) faced pictures of spiders. For each experimental trial, participants specified their personal risk of encountering the spider (cognitive factor), as well as their subjective fear (outcome variable) on quasi-continuous scales, while diverse somatovisceral responses were registered (heart rate, electrodermal activity, respiration, facial muscle activity).

Results
The machine-learning analyses revealed that fear ratings were predominantly predictable by the diagnostic factor. Yet, when allowing for learning of individual patterns in the data, somatovisceral responses contributed additional information on the fear ratings, yielding a prediction accuracy of 81% explained variance. Moreover, heart rate prior to picture onset, but not heart rate reactivity increased predictive power.

Limitations
Fear was solely assessed by verbal reports, only 27 females were considered, and no generalization to other anxiety disorders is possible.

Conclusions
After training the algorithm to learn about individual-specific responding, somatovisceral patterns can be successfully exploited. Our findings further point to the possibility that the expectancy-related autonomic state throughout the experiment predisposes an individual to experience specific levels of fear, with less influence of the actual visual stimulations.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > PSY-Weitere Forschungsgruppen

UniBE Contributor:

Aue, Tatjana

Subjects:

100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology

ISSN:

0165-0327

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Tatjana Aue

Date Deposited:

06 Aug 2021 16:03

Last Modified:

06 Aug 2021 16:12

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.jad.2021.07.040

PubMed ID:

34304084

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/157885

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/157885

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