The present study was undertaken to determine whether aversiveness
contributes to startle potentiation in anticipation of affective
pictures above and beyond the effects of emotional arousal.
Further, participants high in trait anxious apprehension, which
is characterized by worry about the future, were expected to
show especially pronounced anticipatory startle responses. Startle
blink reflex was measured during warning stimuli that predicted
the valence of ensuing aversive/unpleasant, pleasant, or neutral
pictures. Startle magnitude was larger in anticipation of aversive
than of pleasant pictures and smallest in anticipation of neutral
pictures. Enhanced startle potentiation was not found in anxious
apprehension subjects. These data suggest that the aversive
nature of stimuli contribute to the potentiation of startle
above and beyond the effects of emotional arousal, which may
be a universal phenomenon not modulated by individual differences.