Effects of extended extinction and multiple extinction contexts on ABA renewal
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The return of fear following exposure therapy suggests that extinction does not result in a permanent unlearning of the association between a conditional stimulus (CS) and an unconditional stimulus (US). One proposed mechanism of return of fear is ABA renewal in which a CS is paired with a US in context A, presented alone in context B, and followed by test trials in context A. The current study examined the effects of extended extinction and multiple extinction contexts on ABA renewal in 121 first year psychology students. Using a fear conditioning procedure, renewal of shock expectancy during test was observed when extinction was presented for 12 extinction trials in a single context. In addition, renewal was attenuated when extinction was extended to 36 extinction trials or conducted in multiple contexts with 12 extinction trials. Combining extended extinction with multiple contexts resulted in the greatest attenuation of renewal. The results suggest that prolonged exposure treatment in multiple contexts may enhance the cross-contextual generalizability of extinction learning and reduce the likelihood of renewal of fear.
Learning and Motivation
Psychology not elsewhere classified