Johan is full professor at the Universities of Leuven (Belgium) and Maastricht (Netherlands). His main research interests/expertise are the behavioral, cognitive and motivational mechanisms underlying the transition from common acute aversive sensations (pain, fatigue, tinnitus) to chronic bodily symptoms and disability. His experimental work includes research on the acquisition of fear of pain through direct experience, observational learning, and verbal-symbolic learning.
He and his team study the role of unpredictability on the generalization of bodily symptoms and illness behaviors, with a special attention to the competition between avoidance versus reward seeking tendencies. Johan Vlaeyen highly values translational research, and he and his team have developed customized cognitive-behavioral management strategies for individuals suffering chronic bodily symptoms and utilized replicated single-case experimental designs to evaluate the effects of these interventions.
Johan has published more than 300 papers in international journals, and is on the editorial board of the journal Pain, Clinical Journal of Pain, Scandinavian Journal of Pain, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and Translational Behavioural Medicine.
Abstract: Making sense of pain and pain related fear