Taxonomy and nature of fear-related expectancies

Aue, Tatjana (2021). Taxonomy and nature of fear-related expectancies. Clinical psychology : science and practice, 28(2), pp. 164-167. American Psychological Association 10.1037/cps0000022

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People who expect harmful outcomes from encounters with feared events may adapt their behavior dramatically. Such behavioral change, on the one hand, most likely produces positive short-term effects (i.e., reduction of fear). On the other hand, there can also arise important negative side effects that are expressed in unintended unfavorable long-term consequences. For instance, socially anxious students may tend to avoid giving presentations because of fear of negative feedback from teachers and classmates. When such avoidance is possible, the immediate response will be relief. Yet, after some time has passed, these individuals often experience disappointment with themselves because they have not been able to master the situation. Such self-directed disappointment, in turn, will further reduce their already cracked self-esteem. Moreover, the avoidance behavior substantially conflicts with the students’ desire to successfully complete their studies and subsequently prosper in their jobs. Hence, fear of social failure yields a situation in which expectancies shape the future according to self-fulfilling prophecies, thereby substantially decreasing quality of life. This example thus shows that critical unfavorable expectancies need to be identified and targeted in the clinical context. With their review on the influence of expectancies on experienced fear, Hilleke et al. (2021) make an overdue contribution to the field of research on anxiety disorders. The authors rightfully point out that the sophisticated or differentiated nature of expectancies has long been ignored, a point that I would like to further develop in this commentary. Another important aspect that I will address relates to the fact that expectancies do not exist in isolation but can plausibly be assumed to interact with other information processing domains such as attention, interpretation, and memory. Finally, I will outline how advancements in expectancy categorizations and an in-depth investigation of the interplay of expectancies with other cognitive processes may inform therapeutic approaches.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


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

UniBE Contributor:

Aue, Tatjana


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




American Psychological Association




Tatjana Aue

Date Deposited:

06 Sep 2021 16:45

Last Modified:

06 Sep 2021 16:45

Publisher DOI:



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