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Published December 2018 | Accepted Version
Journal Article Open

The ethological deconstruction of fear(s)

Mobbs, Dean ORCID icon


The natural world presents a myriad of dangers that can threaten an organism's survival. This diversity of threats is matched by a set of universal and species specific defensive behaviors which are often subsumed under the emotions of fear and anxiety. A major issue in the field of affective science, however, is that these emotions are often conflated and scientists fail to reflect the ecological conditions that gave rise to them. I attempt to clarify these semantic issues by describing the link between ethologically defined defensive strategies and fear. This in turn, provides a clearer differentiation between fears, the contexts that evoke them and how they are organized within defensive survival circuits.

Additional Information

© 2018 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Available online 20 March 2018. I wish to thank Ralph Adolphs and Joe LeDoux for their advice. This paper was supported by a grant from the NARSAD, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grant 2P50MH094258, and Chen Institute Award (P2026052) grants to DM. Conflict of interest statement: Nothing declared.

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Accepted Version - nihms-1002939.pdf


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August 19, 2023
October 18, 2023