An experimental test of the effects of parental modeling on panic-relevant escape and avoidance among early adolescents

Liviu Bunaciu, Ellen W. Leen-Feldner, Heidemarie Blumenthal, Ashley A. Knapp, Christal L. Badour, Matthew T. Feldner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Escape and avoidance behaviors play a prominent role in the maintenance and possibly development of panic disorder, yet the literature regarding the etiology of these emotion-regulation strategies is relatively underdeveloped. The current study experimentally tests hypotheses that parental modeling of escape during a well-established panic-relevant biological challenge increases panic-relevant escape and avoidance among offspring. Fifty physically and psychologically healthy early adolescents (28 females; Mage= 11.58; 86% Caucasian), stratified by gender, were randomly assigned to observe one of their parents (39 females; Mage= 40.04): either (a) model completing a 3-min voluntary hyperventilation exercise (no escape modeling group) or (b) model premature termination of a similar procedure (escape modeling group). Offspring in the escape modeling group demonstrated a stronger escape response by discontinuing their own challenge sooner than those in the no-escape modeling group (r= .70). No group differences emerged in terms of avoidance responding, as indexed by nearly identical responding in terms of delay time before initiating the challenge, respiration rate, and self-reported willingness to engage in a second proposed challenge. Results suggest that parental behaviors may play an important role in the development of some forms of panic-relevant responding. These preliminary findings may have important implications for future prevention programs targeting parents and at-risk youth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-529
Number of pages13
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Avoidance
  • Escape
  • Modeling
  • Panic
  • Voluntary hyperventilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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