Learning to fear a second-order stimulus following vicarious learning

Reynolds, Gemma, Field, Andy P and Askew, Chris (2017) Learning to fear a second-order stimulus following vicarious learning. Cognition & Emotion, 31(3), pp. 572-579. ISSN (print) 0269-9931

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Vicarious fear learning refers to the acquisition of fear via observation of the fearful responses of others. The present study aims to extend current knowledge by exploring whether second-order vicarious fear learning can be demonstrated in children. That is, whether vicariously learnt fear responses for one stimulus can be elicited in a second stimulus associated with that initial stimulus. Results demonstrated that children's (5-11 years) fear responses for marsupials and caterpillars increased when they were seen with fearful faces compared to no faces. Additionally, the results indicated a second-order effect in which fear-related learning occurred for other animals seen together with the fear-paired animal, even though the animals were never observed with fearful faces themselves. Overall, the findings indicate that for children in this age group vicariously learnt fear-related responses for one stimulus can subsequently be observed for a second stimulus without it being experienced in a fear-related vicarious learning event. These findings may help to explain why some individuals do not recall involvement of a traumatic learning episode in the development of their fear of a specific stimulus.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number ES/J00751X/1].
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: Automatic Import Agent
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2015 08:40
Last Modified: 26 Jan 2017 14:20
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2015.1116978
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/33630

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