The Verbal Information Pathway to Fear and Subsequent Causal Learning in Children

Field, Andy P. and Lawson, Joanne (2008) The Verbal Information Pathway to Fear and Subsequent Causal Learning in Children. Cognition and Emotion, 22 (3). pp. 459-479. ISSN 0269-9931

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Recent research has shown that verbal threat information creates long-term fear cognitions and can create cognitive biases and avoidance in children. However, the impact on future learning is untested. This experiment exposed a non-clinical sample of children (aged 7-9 years) to threat, positive or no information about three novel animals to see the impact on their subsequent causal learning. In this causal learning task, children saw a series of pictures of animals and had to predict on each trial whether there would be a good or bad outcome. They then saw a picture to indicate whether the outcome was good or bad. The probability of each outcome was either .2 or .8. At the end of a block of trials children were also asked to estimate how many trials they thought had concluded with a negative outcome. Results showed that verbal information directly affected the estimate of associative strength between animals and positive and negative outcomes in a causal learning task. These results support theories of fear acquisition that suppose that verbal information affects components of the fear emotion, and suggest possibilities for using information to protect children from acquiring animal fears

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Depositing User: Andy Field
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:40
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2012 12:05
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