Send to

Choose Destination
J Gen Psychol. 2017 Apr-Jun;144(2):140-156. doi: 10.1080/00221309.2016.1276046. Epub 2017 Feb 21.

Cognitive Factors Affecting Freeze-like Behavior in Humans.

Author information

a Northern Arizona University.
b University of North Dakota.


Contemporary research on survival-related defensive behaviors has identified physiological markers of freeze/flight/fight. Our research focused on cognitive factors associated with freeze-like behavior in humans. Study 1 tested if an explicit decision to freeze is associated with the psychophysiological state of freezing. Heart rate deceleration occurred when participants chose to freeze. Study 2 varied the efficacy of freezing relative to other defense options and found "freeze" was responsive to variations in the perceived effectiveness of alternative actions. Study 3 tested if individual differences in motivational orientation affect preference for a "freeze" option when the efficacy of options is held constant. A trend in the predicted direction suggested that naturally occurring cognitions led loss-avoiders to select "freeze" more often than reward-seekers. In combination, our attention to the cognitive factors affecting freeze-like behavior in humans represents a preliminary step in addressing an important but neglected research area.


Freeze; cognition; mental sets; survival mechanisms; threat

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center