Automatic negative evaluation of suffocation sensations in individuals with suffocation fear

J Abnorm Psychol. 2005 Aug;114(3):466-70. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.114.3.466.


The current study tested whether "suffocation sensations" (respiratory loads) are automatically evaluated in a negative way by people fearing these sensations. It was found that, after having been primed with a slight respiratory load, participants with high suffocation fear (n=15) reacted more quickly to suffocation words and more slowly to positive words than participants with low suffocation fear (n=21). However, the effect was present only in participants who had noticed the primes. The findings are relevant to the cognitive model of panic disorder because automatic negative appraisal of sensations may play a role in initiating a panic attack.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Airway Resistance
  • Asphyxia / psychology*
  • Automatism / psychology*
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Panic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Panic Disorder / psychology*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Risk Factors
  • Set, Psychology*
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology*
  • Students / psychology