ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2018, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (2): 197-205.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2018.00197

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 徐 亮1,2;  谢晓媛1,3,4;  闫 沛1,3,4;  李俊娇1,3,4;  郑希付1,3,4   

  1.  (1华南师范大学心理学院, 广州 510631) (2广东交通职业技术学院人文社科部, 广州 510650) (3华南师范大学心理应用研究中心; 4广东省心理健康与认知科学重点实验室, 广州 510631)
  • 收稿日期:2017-03-31 发布日期:2017-12-26 出版日期:2018-02-25
  • 通讯作者: 郑希付, E-mail:
  • 基金资助:
     国家自然科学基金项目(31771218), 国家社会科学基金重大项目(14ZDB259), 幸福广州心理服务与辅导基地资助。

 Sex differences in fear generalization

 XU Liang1,2; XIE Xiaoyuan1,3,4; YAN Pei1,3,4; LI Junjiao1,3,4; ZHENG Xifu1,3,4   

  1.  (1 School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou 510630, China) (2 Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Guangdong Communication Polytechnic, Guangzhou 510650, China) (3 Center for Studies of Psychological Application; 4 Guangdong Key Laboratory of Mental Health and Cognitive Science, Guangzhou 510630, China)
  • Received:2017-03-31 Online:2017-12-26 Published:2018-02-25
  • Contact: ZHENG Xifu, E-mail:
  • Supported by:

摘要:  恐惧的过度泛化是焦虑障碍的核心症状之一, 表现为患者对与原危险刺激极不相似的中性刺激也有着较高强度的恐惧反应。临床上, 女性比男性更有可能患焦虑障碍, 因而对恐惧泛化进行性别差异研究可以为解释女性有着更高焦虑障碍发病率提供新的角度, 同时为临床治疗提供参考。本研究采用辨别性条件恐惧范式, 以主观预期值和皮电反应值作为测量指标, 从行为和生理两个层面对条件性恐惧泛化程度和恐惧泛化消退的性别差异进行研究。结果发现, 在恐惧泛化程度上, 未出现显著性别差异。在恐惧泛化消退上, 在主观预期值和皮电反应值两个层面均有着显著性别差异, 具体表现为相较于男性, 女性恐惧泛化的消退更慢, 持续时间更长。研究结果表明, 女性焦虑障碍高发病率的潜在影响因素之一可能在于女性对于恐惧泛化刺激的难以消除。

关键词: 恐惧泛化, 泛化消退, 性别差异

Abstract:  Women are more susceptible to disorders of fear and anxiety than men, with the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) two-to three-fold higher in women. Whereas normal fear responses are triggered by trauma-associated cues, in disorders such as PTSD, fear is also elicited in neutral or safe cues. Hence, fear over-generalization has been put forward as a potential etiological factor of PTSD and other anxiety disorders. Therefore, in this study, we examined whether women show stronger fear generalization than men, and are there any differences between women and man in the extinction of fear generalization. The answers to such questions could provide a new perspective on the severe prevalence of anxiety disorders in women. Forty-five college students participated in this study. Three participants’ data were deleted for technical failure, leaving forty-two participants’ (Female: 22, Male: 20) data in analysis finally. The experiment consisted of two phases: acquisition, and generalization. 10 rings of gradually increasing size were served as conditioned stimuli (CS) and generalization stimuli (GS). The rings in the two extreme sizes were as the conditioned danger cue (CS+) and conditioned safety cue (CS−), respectively. The eight intermediately sized rings were served as four classes of generalization stimuli (i.e., GS1, GS2, GS3, and GS4), with GS4 being the most similar one to CS+ in size. A 500ms-electric stimulus served as unconditioned stimulus (US). CS+ was probably paired with US, while CS− and GS were unpaired with US. During the experiment, US online expectancy ratings and skin conductance responses (SCR) were recorded. The results showed that women had longer extinction duration of fear generalization than men, while there were no sex differences in generalization gradient. Such results were proved in the indexes of both online expectancy ratings and SCR. In the index of online expectancy ratings, both women and men generalized fear into GS3 and GS4. In the fear extinction of GS3, there were no sex difference and both genders extinguished generalized fear in Block3. As for GS4, women extinguished fear from Block5 while males were from Block3, which indicted that women need more time in generalization extinction. The conclusions above were also found in SCR. Both women and men transferred fear to GS4, but there had sex differences in the extinction of fear generalization. Men extinguished the fear of GS4 from Block3, while women were from Block4. The results of SCR also indicated that the women had longer extinction duration of fear generalization than men. The theory of behavioral inhibition was supported by this study, for the sex differences of fear generalization only occurring in generalization extinction but not generalization gradient. Given the role of fear generalization in anxiety disorders, our findings suggest that longer generalization extinction may contribute to the higher risk of anxiety disorders in women. Additionally, our findings also have potential value for treatments of anxiety disorders among women in clinical.

Key words: fear generalization, generalization extinction, sex differences