Exploring human freeze responses to a threat stressor

Norman B. Schmidt*, J. Anthony Richey, Michael J. Zvolensky, Jon K. Maner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Despite the fundamental nature of tonic immobility in anxiety responses, surprisingly little empirical research has focused on the "freeze" response in humans. The present report evaluated the frequency and predictors of a freeze response in the context of a biological challenge. A nonclinical sample (N=404) underwent a 20-s inhalation of 20% CO2/balance O2. Perceptions of immobility in the context of the challenge were reported in 13% of the sample, compared with 20% reporting a significant desire to flee. Subjective anxiety and panic during the challenge were associated with the freeze response, as were a number of anxiety symptom dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)292-304
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Anxiety
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Freeze
  • Panic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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