Stimulus fear-relevance and the vicarious learning pathway to childhood fears

Askew, C., Dunne, G., Ozdil, A., Reynolds, G. and Field, A.P. (2013) Stimulus fear-relevance and the vicarious learning pathway to childhood fears. Emotion, 13(5), pp. 915-925. ISSN (print) 1528-3542

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Abstract

Enhanced fear learning for fear-relevant stimuli has been demonstrated in procedures with adults in the laboratory. Three experiments investigated the effect of stimulus fear-relevance on vicarious fear learning in children (aged 6-11 years). Pictures of stimuli with different levels of fear-relevance (flowers, caterpillars, snakes, worms, and Australian marsupials) were presented alone or together with scared faces. In line with previous studies, children's fear beliefs and avoidance preferences increased for stimuli they had seen with scared faces. However, in contrast to evidence with adults, learning was mostly similar for all stimulus types irrespective of fear-relevance. The results support a proposal that stimulus preparedness is bypassed when children observationally learn threat-related information from adults.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: anxiety, vicarious learning, fears, preparedness, observational learning
Research Area: Psychology
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (until 2017) > School of Psychology, Criminology and Sociology (from November 2012)
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Depositing User: Cat Barbour
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2013 12:41
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2015 13:51
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/a0032714
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/25232

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