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Second-order learning following fear-related vicarious learning in children

Reynolds, G, Field, AP and Askew, C (2015) Second-order learning following fear-related vicarious learning in children In: BPS Developmental Section & Social Section Psychology Annual Conference 2015, 2015-09-09 - 2015-09-11, Manchester, UK.

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Background: Vicarious fear learning refers to the acquisition of fear via observation of the fearful responses of others. Previous research (e.g., Reynolds, Field & Askew, 2014) has demonstrated changes in subjective report, behavioural avoidance, physiological responding and attentional bias follow vicarious fear learning. Method: Two experiments used a prospective vicarious learning paradigm in which pictures of two marsupials or two caterpillars were presented on a screen to children aged 5-11. One animal was always paired with fearful faces and the other appeared alone on the screen. Fear cognitions and avoidance preferences were measured before and after vicarious learning. Findings: Two experiments replicated the finding that children’s fear beliefs for animals 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 animals seen together with other animals that had previously been paired with scared faces, even though the animals were never directly paired with fearful faces themselves. Experiment 2 demonstrated that this second-order effect occurred regardless of whether the first and second order stimuli were a caterpillar or a marsupial. Furthermore, Experiment 2 showed increased avoidance preferences following first- and second-order learning. Discussion: These are the first results in children to indicate that vicariously learnt fear responses for stimuli can be elicited in other stimuli they are subsequently associated with. Findings aid understanding of how some individuals are unable to recall a traumatic event associated with their fear or phobia and informs intervention targeting.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Conference Paper)
Subjects : Psychology
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Reynolds, G
Field, AP
Askew, C
Date : 9 September 2015
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2015 British Psychological Society
Contributors :
ContributionNameEmailORCID Psychological Society,
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 16 Nov 2016 11:42
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 18:55

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