Who's afraid of the big bad wolf: a prospective paradigm to test Rachman's indirect pathways in children

Field, Andy P, Argyris, Nicolas G and Knowles, Karina A (2001) Who's afraid of the big bad wolf: a prospective paradigm to test Rachman's indirect pathways in children. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 39 (11). pp. 1259-1276. ISSN 0005-7967

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Abstract

Rachman's theory [The conditioning theory of fear insition: a critical examination. Behav. Res. Ther. 15 (1977) 375–387] of fear acquisition suggests that fears and phobias can be acquired through three pathways: direct conditioning, vicarious learning and information/instruction. Although retrospective studies have provided some evidence for these pathways in the development of phobias during childhood [see King, Gullone, & Ollendick, Etiology of childhood phobias: current status of Rachman's three pathway's theory. Behav. Res. Ther. 36 (1998) 297–309 for a review], these studies have relied on long-term past memories of adult phobics or their parents. The current study was aimed towards developing a paradigm in which the plausibility of Rachman's indirect pathways could be investigated prospectively. In Experiment 1, children aged between 7 and 9 were presented with two types of information about novel stimuli (two monsters): video information and verbal information in the form of a story. Fear-related beliefs about the monsters changed significantly as a result of verbal information but not video information. Having established an operational paradigm, Experiment 2 looked at whether the source of verbal information had an effect on changes in fear-beliefs. Using the same paradigm, information about the monsters was provided by either a teacher, an adult stranger or a peer, or no information was given. Again, verbal information significantly changed fear-beliefs, but only when the information came from an adult. The role of information in the acquisition of fear and maintenance of avoidant behaviour is discussed with reference to modern conditioning theories of fear acquisition.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0712 Developmental psychology Including infant psychology, child psychology, adolescence, adulthood
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Depositing User: Andy Field
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2007
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2017 12:04
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/712
Google Scholar:86 Citations

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