This presentation will provide an overview of themes to be considered throughout this Summer Research Institute. It will begin with a consideration of fear from a psychological perspective, particularly emphasizing the process and psychophysiological correlates of threat appraisal and how this is influenced by the perception of personal coping resources (e.g., in self-concept and self confidence), interpersonal trust (e.g., attachment security), and social context (e.g., interpersonal safety cues; expressed and perceived empathy and compassion). The presentation will then move to a review of evidence for neural systems involved in fear, and those affective systems contributing to the experience of trust (e.g., hypothesized seeking and care systems). In this review, both human and nonhuman data will be examined. This will be followed by a select highlighting of relevant research from the social sciences, with emphasis on societal contributors to the experience of fear and trust, and cross-cultural differences. The presentation will conclude with discussion of contemplative practices that have been theoretically and empirically related to decreases in psychological distress, and available evidence contributing to speculation on psychological processes that mediate this relationship, such as “decentering” in the experience of self, and their neurobiological correlates.

Alfred Kaszniak, PhD

The University of Arizona


Alfred Kaszniak, PhD received his doctorate in clinical and developmental psychology from the University of Illinois in 1976, and completed an internship and postdoctoral training in clinical neuropsychology at Rush … MORE