Using facial expressions as CSs and fearsome and disgusting pictures as UCSs: Affective responding and evaluative learning of fear and disgust in blood-injection-injury phobia

Bunmi O. Olatunji, Jeffrey M. Lohr, Craig Sawchuk, David H. Westendorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations


Two experiments examine use of an evaluative conditioning (EC) paradigm in the acquisition of fear and disgust responding to neutral facial expressions. In Experiment 1, 60 participants were randomly assigned to one of three evaluative learning conditions in which neutral facial expressions were paired with fearsome, disgusting, or neutral pictures. No statistically significant differences were detected between the three conditions. However, significant differences emerged within subjects as post-exposure of fear and disgust ratings were higher among expressions that were paired with pictorial stimuli. Experiment 2 sought to examine if an analogue sample of BII phobics would be more susceptible than nonphobic controls to fear and disgust EC utilizing a similar experimental design, given the co-occurrence of fear and disgust in BII-phobic responding. Results failed to demonstrate an EC effect specific to the analogue phobic group, although both groups showed an evaluative shift toward disgust for those facial expressions paired with BII-relevant pictures. Consistent with previous findings, examination of picture rating data suggested that analogue BII phobics rated the BII pictures as significantly more disgusting than fearful. The role of EC processes and a priori expectancy biases in the associative learning of disgust in BII phobia is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)539-555
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005
Externally publishedYes



  • BII phobia
  • Disgust
  • Emotions
  • Evaluative learning
  • Fear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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