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Associative learning and the indirect pathways to fear in children

Field, AP and Askew, C (2007) Associative learning and the indirect pathways to fear in children In: 5th World Congress of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies, 2007-07-11 - 2007-07-14, Barcelona, Spain.

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Verbal threat information and observational learning have long been assumed to play an important role in the development of fears and phobias. Although evidence for the contribution of indirect pathways to fear has traditionally been based on retrospective reports recent work has begun to experimentally manipulate threat information and vicarious learning experiences about novel animals in pre-teenage children (e.g. Field & Lawson, 2003). These experiments show that threat information can change fear beliefs in children (measured explicitly and implicitly) that persist over long periods of time and create behavioural avoidance and attentional biases. However, the mechanisms underlying these effects remain unexplored. This talk presents experiments that test the notion that effects of threat information and vicarious learning in the development of fear in children are driven by associative learning processes. The first two experiments adapt Field and Lawson's (2003) paradigm in 7-9 year old children and the results showed that fear beliefs induced by threat information are sensitive to the contingency between the novel animal and information given and are also affected by devaluation of the information. The second two experiments test the same phenomena in a vicarious learning paradigm in which novel animals and scared or happy facial expressions were contiguously presented. The results showed little effect of contingency or US revaluation in vicarious learning. These experiments suggest that associative learning is a versatile framework within which to explain the developmental acquisition of fears in children; however, they imply that there are differences in the extent to which threat information and vicarious learning experiences conform to the known 'rules' of associative learning.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Conference Paper)
Subjects : Psychology
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Field, AP
Askew, C
Date : July 2007
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2007 European Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies
Contributors :
ContributionNameEmailORCID, D
Uncontrolled Keywords : Associative learning, Fear, Vicarious learning
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 15 Nov 2016 14:49
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 18:55

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