1978 Volume 22 Issue 6 Pages 331-342
The purpose of this study was to confirm the conscious and the unconscious cognitive expectancy as a mechanism of acquired anxiety which was experimentally manipulated by means of the reaction-time signal (CS)-electric shock (UCS) pairings, and to examine the effect of acquired anxiety on choice reaction time (CRT). Thirty-six highly susceptible subjects (Ss) were selected on the basis of their performance on the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility. The Ss were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups. The experiment was divided into three sessions, pre-test, conditioning, post-test. In each of three sessions, three light stimuli were randomly presented 10 times per stimulus. In the conditioning session, the Ss were given the electric shock after the middle stimulus (CS^+) onset. After the conditioning session, the Ss in all groups were hypnotized and given the following treatment and then awakened. The Ss in Group 1 were given neither special instruction nor suggestion. The Ss in Group 2 were given posthypnotic suggestion for amnesia of the events in the conditioning session and the hypnotic state, but not given the instruction on extinction. The Ss in Group 3 were given the instruction on extinction without the suggestion of posthypnotic amnesia. The Ss in Group 4 were given the instruction on extinction and the suggestion of posthypnotic amnesia. As a result, a significant delay of CRT to CS^+ in the post-test session was found in the groups which were not given any special instruction on extinction, regardless of being aware or unaware of the relationship between CS^+ and UCS. In only the groups given the instruction on extinction, however, it was found that, in the post-test session, the CRT to CS^+ recovered to the same level of the CRT in the pre-test session. These findings appear to provide evidences of the conscious and the unconscious cognitive expectancy as a mechanism of acquired anxiety.