Stimulus fear relevance and the speed, magnitude, and robustness of vicariously learned fear

Article


Dunne, G., Reynolds, G. and Askew, C. 2017. Stimulus fear relevance and the speed, magnitude, and robustness of vicariously learned fear. Behaviour Research and Therapy. 95, pp. 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2017.05.002
TypeArticle
TitleStimulus fear relevance and the speed, magnitude, and robustness of vicariously learned fear
AuthorsDunne, G., Reynolds, G. and Askew, C.
Abstract

Superior learning for fear-relevant stimuli is typically indicated in the laboratory by faster acquisition of fear responses, greater learned fear, and enhanced resistance to extinction. Three experiments investigated the speed, magnitude, and robustness of UK children’s (6-10 years; N = 290; 122 boys, 168 girls) vicariously learned fear responses for three types of stimuli. In two experiments, children were presented with pictures of novel animals (Australian marsupials) and flowers (fear-irrelevant stimuli) alone (control) or together with faces expressing fear or happiness. To determine learning speed the number of stimulus-face pairings seen by children was varied (1, 10, or 30 trials). Robustness of learning was examined via repeated extinction procedures over 3 weeks. A third experiment compared the magnitude and robustness of vicarious fear learning for snakes and marsupials. Significant increases in fear responses were found for snakes, marsupials and flowers. There was no indication that vicarious learning for marsupials was faster than for flowers. Moreover, vicariously learned fear was neither greater nor more robust for snakes compared to marsupials, or for marsupials compared to flowers. These findings suggest that for this age group stimulus fear relevance may have little influence on vicarious fear learning.

LanguageEnglish
PublisherElsevier
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
ISSN0005-7967
Publication dates
Print01 Aug 2017
Online06 May 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited08 May 2017
Accepted03 May 2017
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2017.05.002
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