"Is it scary mummy?" Vicarious acquisition and prevention of fear in children via a mother or a stranger

Dunne, Guler and Askew, Chris (2011) "Is it scary mummy?" Vicarious acquisition and prevention of fear in children via a mother or a stranger. In: BABCP 2011: 39th Annual Conference and Workshops; 20 - 23 Jul 2011, Guildford, U.K.. (Unpublished)

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Studies suggests that children can acquire fears vicariously through observation of others exhibiting these fears (Gerull & Rapee, 2002; Askew & Field 2007). This study looked at the relative effectiveness of modeling, by mothers and strangers, in both the acquisition and reduction of fear beliefs in children and their behavioural preference/avoidance towards unfamiliar stimuli. It also looked at whether fear beliefs acquired in this way could be effectively unlearned through counterconditioning. The children (N = 60), aged 6 to 10 years, were presented with images of novel animals, paired with counterbalanced images of negative or positive facial expressions, posed by their mothers or strangers, or left unpaired (control). Fear-related beliefs were assessed before and after the vicarious learning task and again after the counterconditioning task by means of a self-report questionnaire and a behaviour task. In the behaviour task the children's avoidance feelings for the animals was assessed by where they placed a figure that represented themselves on a board (the 'nature reserve') relative to the animals. The results showed that the children demonstrated increased fear beliefs and avoidance of the animals following negative expressions from their mothers or strangers. Conversely, the children's fear beliefs decreased when paired with happy expressions. The results post the counter-conditioning (unlearning) showed that where fear beliefs had previously been shown to have increased by being paired with scared faces, they decreased when subsequently paired with happy faces. Similarly, where fear beliefs had previously been shown to have decreased by being paired with happy faces, they showed an increase in this condition when subsequently paired with scared faces. There was no significant difference in the effectiveness of the vicarious information where the source was the mother as compared with a stranger. Implications for the science and practice of CBT: If clinicians have a better understanding of how and why a fear was acquired or prevented this should assist treatment.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Event Title: BABCP 2011: 39th Annual Conference and Workshops
Organising Body: British Association for Behavioural and Cognitice Psychotherapies
Research Area: Psychology
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (until 2017) > School of Social Science (until November 2012)
Depositing User: Katrina Clifford
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2012 15:18
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2012 21:55
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/22502

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