Food as a contextual cue in counterconditioning experiments: Is there a counterconditioning process?

Elizabeth D. Capaldi, Donna M. Viveiros, David H. Campbell

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4 Scopus citations


In three experiments, counterconditioning was found to reduce fear less effectively than extinction. In Experiments 1 and 2, the resistance to extinction of avoidance was greater if food was given during extinction of fear to the CS than if no food was given, even when exposure to the CS and numbers of food and no food confinement trials were equated. It is suggested that these results could be attributed to contextual control of fear extinction by the food cue and/or to frustration produced by removing food for the counterconditioning group. Experiment 3 also found counterconditioning to be less effective than extinction and provided evidence that this difference occurs because of contextual control of fear extinction by the food cue. Measuring conditioned suppression of licking, in a test with no food present, less fear was shown if no food had been present during fear extinction, and greater fear was shown if no food had been present during fear conditioning. These results indicate that food is an important part of the context controlling fear and fear extinction. It is suggested that there may be no unique counterconditioning process. Rather, when counterconditioning procedures are employed, rules governing interference paradigms in general may apply. Thus, in a test for fear following counterconditioning, fear will be shown to the extent the test situation is similar to that in which fear conditioning occurred rather than that in which fear reduction occurred.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-222
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Learning & Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 1983


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Psychology(all)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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