A1 Journal article (refereed)
Attachment voices promote safety learning in humans : A critical role for P2 (2022)

Dou, H., Dai, Y., Qiu, Y., & Lei, Y. (2022). Attachment voices promote safety learning in humans : A critical role for P2. Psychophysiology, 59(6), Article e13997. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13997

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Dou, Haoran; Dai, Yuqian; Qiu, Yiwen; Lei, Yi

Journal or series: Psychophysiology

ISSN: 0048-5772

eISSN: 1469-8986

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 04/03/2022

Volume: 59

Issue number: 6

Article number: e13997

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

Publication country: United States

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13997

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:


Humans have evolved to seek the proximity of attachment figures during times of threat in order to obtain a sense of safety. In this context, we examined whether or not the voice of an intimate partner (termed “attachment voice”) could reduce fear-learning of conditioned stimuli (CS+) and enhance learning of safety signals (CS−). Although the ability to learn safety signals is vital for human survival, few studies have explored how attachment voices affect safety learning. To test our hypothesis, we recruited thirty-five young couples and performed a classic Pavlovian conditioning experiment, recording behavioral and electroencephalographic (EEG) data. The results showed that compared with a stranger’s voice, the voices of the partners reduced expectancy of the unconditioned stimulus (a shock) during fear-conditioning, as well as the magnitude of P2 event-related potentials within the EEG responses, provided the voices were safety signals. Additionally, behavioral and EEG responses to the CS+ and CS− differed more when the participants heard their partner’s voice than when they heard the stranger’s voice. Thus, attachment voices, even as pure vowel sounds without any semantic information, enhanced acquisition of conditioned safety (CS−). These findings may provide implications for investigating other new techniques to improve clinical treatments for fear- and anxiety-related disorders and for psychological interventions against the mental health effects of the public health emergency.

Keywords: fear (emotions); safety and security; conditioning (passive); stimuli (role related to effect); attachment (relations); love

Free keywords: event-related potentials; fear conditioning; P2; passionate love; safety learning

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2023-21-08 at 15:34