Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Self-Generated Fear Selectively Modifies Approach and Avoidance Behavior
by Fawver, Bradley Joseph, Ph.D., University of Florida, 2016, 142; 10679115
Abstract (Summary)

Emotional states such as fear impact the ability to execute movements in a variety of domains due to attentional, physiological, and behavioral response stereotypes. Research directed at elucidating the mechanisms of emotion-modulated behavior holds particular significance across various clinical and performance settings. Empirical work to this end established that when presented with affective content, motor responses are more efficient when there is a match (or congruency) between the motivational qualities of an emotional stimulus and distance altering characteristics of the movement being executed. Questions remain, though, concerning how contextual factors interact with fear-induced motivational orientations to influence approach and avoidance motor actions. The purpose of the present study was to determine the impact of recalling fearful experiences on forward gait initiation (GI) behavior conceptualized as either approach or avoidance. Participants (N=29) initially completed a toneinitiated forward gait task during a baseline period, and then repeated the task after recalling a previous fearful memory in which the fearful stimulus was located either in front or behind them. The impact of the manipulation on GI behavior was assessed by calculating the delay in reaction and response times to the audible tone signaling GI, displacement and velocity of center of pressure (COP) movements prior to stepping, and kinematics (e.g., step length, velocity) for the first five steps. Subsequently, aggregate scores within baseline and fear trial blocks for each participant were calculated and change (bias) scores to baseline were computed to control for individual differences. Analyses revealed participants initiating forward gait exhibited expedited reaction times, greater displacement and velocity of COP, and greater step length and velocity when the location of the fear stimulus in their memory was in the posterior direction compared to the anterior direction. Collectively, these results provide support for the contemporary theoretical position that motivational orientations to approach and avoid are contextualized based on affective congruency, which includes the spatial orientation of emotional stimuli. Current findings also lend insight into potential intervention strategies for those seeking to use emotion paradigms for improving motor function in performance and clinical settings.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Janelle, Christopher M.
Commitee: Anton, Steve D., Coomnes, Stephen A., Hass, Chris J.
School: University of Florida
Department: Health and Human Performance
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-B 79/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Behavioral psychology, Experimental psychology, Biomechanics
Keywords: affective context, autobiographical recall, emotion, gait, motivation, posture
Publication Number: 10679115
ISBN: 9780355401356
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