A functional analysis of danger and safety signals in anxiety disorders

Jeffrey M. Lohr, Bunmi O. Olatunji, Craig N. Sawchuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Research in experimental psychopathology indicates that predictability and controllability of threatening events mediate the development, maintenance, and modification of anxiety disorders. We propose that a more thorough analysis of predictability and controllability requires the explication of danger and safety, and those events that provide such signal functions. Although most research is concerned with the identification of signals that predict danger, relatively little attention has been given to the identification of signals that predict safety. The current manuscript outlines the functional analysis of both danger and safety signals as they relate to the various disorders of anxiety. Consideration of pharmacological treatments suggests that the modification of danger and safety signals may function only as incidental features of the intervention. The potential advantages of cognitive-behavioral interventions that maximize treatment-specific self-control of signal functions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-126
Number of pages13
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Anxiety disorders
  • Control
  • Danger
  • Prediction
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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