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Fear information and the development of fears during childhood: effects on implicit fear responses and behavioural avoidance

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 13:40 authored by Andy FieldAndy Field, J Lawson
Field, Argyris and Knowles (Behav Res Ther 39 (2001) 1259), and Field, Hamilton, Knowles and Plews (Behav Res Thera 41 (2003) 113) have developed a prospective paradigm for testing Rachman’s (Behav Res Ther 15 (1977) 375) proposition that fear information is important in the development of fears and phobias in children. Despite this paradigm being an advance on retrospective reports, the research so far has been restricted to self-reported fear beliefs measured after the information is given. This gives rise to two possible shortcomings: (1) the effects could simply reflect demand characteristics resulting from children conforming to the experimental demands, and (2) although fear information changes beliefs, this might not translate into the behavioural change that would be expected if this information has a powerful effect relevant to the development of pathological fear. This paper describes an experiment that attempts to address these concerns by improving Field et al.’s (2001, 2003) basic paradigm but with the addition of two measures: (1) a behavioural measure of avoidance, and (2) an implicit attitude task that should not be susceptible to deliberate attempts to conform to experimental demands. The result showed that negative and positive information have dramatic, and opposite, effects on self-reported fear beliefs, behavioural avoidance and implicit attitudes. There were no effects of gender on any of these results. This study fully supports Rachman’s model and suggests that past work does not merely reflect demand characteristics and that fear information increases behavioural avoidance as well as fear beliefs.

History

Publication status

  • Published

Journal

Behaviour Research and Therapy

ISSN

0005-7967

Publisher

Elsevier

Issue

11

Volume

41

Page range

1277-1293

Department affiliated with

  • Psychology Publications

Full text available

  • Yes

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date

2007-01-18

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