Preventing the development of observationally learnt fears in children by devaluing the model's negative response

Reynolds, Gemma ORCID logoORCID:, Field, Andy P. and Askew, Chris (2015) Preventing the development of observationally learnt fears in children by devaluing the model's negative response. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 43 (7) . pp. 1355-1367. ISSN 0091-0627 [Article] (doi:10.1007/s10802-015-0004-0)

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Vicarious learning has become an established indirect pathway to fear acquisition. It is generally accepted that associative learning processes underlie vicarious learning; however, whether this association is a form of conditioned stimulus-unconditioned stimulus (CS-US) learning or stimulus–response (CS-CR) learning remains unclear. Traditionally, these types of learning can be dissociated in a US revaluation procedure. The current study explored the effects of post-vicarious learning US revaluation on acquired fear responses. Ninety-four children (46 males and 48 females) aged 6 to 10 years first viewed either a fear vicarious learning video or a neutral vicarious learning video followed by random allocation to one of three US revaluation conditions: inflation; deflation; or control. Inflation group children were presented with still images of the adults in the video and told that the accompanying sound and image of a very fast heart rate monitor belonged to the adult. The deflation group were shown the same images but with the sound and image of a normal heart rate. The control group received no US revaluation. Results indicated that inflating how scared the models appeared to be did not result in significant increases in children’s fear beliefs, avoidance preferences, avoidance behavior or heart rate for animals above increases caused by vicarious learning. In contrast, US devaluation resulted in significant decreases in fear beliefs and avoidance preferences. Thus, the findings provide evidence that CS-US associations underpin vicarious learning and suggest that US devaluation may be a successful method for preventing children from developing fear beliefs following a
traumatic vicarious learning episode with a stimulus.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
Item ID: 16873
Notes on copyright: © The Author(s) 2015.
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.
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Depositing User: Gemma Reynolds
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2015 09:38
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 22:23

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