Concordance between self-reported and physiological measures of emotion during fear imagery in anxiety disorders

Open Access
Yamasaki, Alissa S.
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
December 16, 2005
Committee Members:
  • William Ray, Committee Chair
  • Thomas D Borkovec, Committee Member
  • Robert M Stern, Committee Member
  • Joyce Karen Illfelder Kaye, Committee Member
  • skin conductance
  • heart rate
  • fear
  • GAD
  • emotion
  • concordance
  • imagery
  • anxiety
  • memory
Lang (1979, 1985) stated that activation of fear and fear memory can be measured across multiple domains, including the verbal-cognitive and somato-visceral domains. He proposed that anxiety disorders vary along a continuum of the degree of agreement, or concordance, between these domains, with specific phobias associated with the greatest degree of concordance and the least degree of concordance is present in generalized anxiety states. Although existing evidence supports this continuum, lack of inclusion of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in the existing research prohibits the full support of Lang’s theory. The purpose of the present study was to expand current understanding of the relationship between self-report and physiological emotional responses, particularly in regard to current understanding of emotion in specific phobia and generalized anxiety. Results showed that group membership could be predicted based upon emotional response for baseline and emotionally-neutral tasks, but not for emotionally-charged tasks. Long-term memory of emotional experience was related to self-reported arousal at the time of encoding, and the GAD group was slower in their recognition of emotional experiences. Results are discussed in relation to conceptual understanding of GAD, clinical implications and future directions.