Next to a failure to attain selective threat appraisal in the first place (Boddez et al., 2012), a loss of initially acquired selective threat appraisal might also promote the development of non-specific fear. The present experiments therefore focus on the maintenance of selective threat appraisal: Is it possible that a blocked CS, initially considered to be (fairly) safe, is later on reappraised as signaling danger, in the absence of further direct information about that CS?
Such threat reappraisal might be one of the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of non-specific fear. Further research is needed to investigate the plausibility and possible boundary conditions of the mechanism proposed here.
Complex training procedures with multiple CSs as used here, may do a better job at modelling more ambiguous real-life situations and may allow to study the transition from adaptive to maladaptive and non-specific fear (Beckers, Krypotos, Boddez, Effting, & Kindt, 2013).