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  1. Jeffrey M. Lohr,
  2. Thomas G. Adams

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0349

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Lohr, J. M. and Adams, T. G. 2010. Fear. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of Arkansas

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Fear may be the most important emotion for the survival of the human species. The experience of fear is the immediate subjective experience of apprehension marked by activation of the fight or flight response. The experience of fear is best understood on the basis of its principle function. According to Seligman (1971), “the great majority of phobias are about object(s) of natural importance to the survival of the species.” In the most severe of circumstances (e.g., in the presence of a fast-approaching predator), fear activates the organism to flee or battle for its life. A less severe illustration of fear function is seen in day-to-day social interactions in which individuals avoid saying or doing embarrassing things in order to prevent social rejection or maintain companionship.


  • fear;
  • anxiety;
  • disgust;
  • emotion;
  • learning