Reductions in Children’s Vicariously Learnt Avoidance and Heart Rate Responses Using Positive Modeling

Article English OPEN
Reynolds, G ; Field, AP ; Askew, Chris (2018)

Recent research has indicated that vicarious learning can lead to increases in children’s fear beliefs and avoidance preferences for stimuli and that these fear responses can subsequently be reversed using positive modeling (counterconditioning). The current study investigated children’s vicariously acquired avoidance behavior, physiological responses (heart rate), and attentional bias for stimuli and whether these could also be reduced via counterconditioning. Ninety-six (49 boys, 47 girls) 7- to 11-year-olds received vicarious fear learning for novel stimuli and were then randomly assigned to a counterconditioning, extinction, or control group. Fear beliefs and avoidance preferences were measured pre- and post-learning, whereas avoidance behavior, heart rate, and attentional bias were all measured post-learning. Control group children showed increases in fear beliefs and avoidance preferences for animals seen in vicarious fear learning trials. In addition, significantly greater avoidance behavior, heart rate responding, and attentional bias were observed for these animals compared to a control animal. In contrast, vicariously acquired avoidance preferences of children in the counterconditioning group were significantly reduced post-positive modeling, and these children also did not show the heightened heart rate responding to fear-paired animals. Children in the extinction group demonstrated comparable responses to the control group; thus the extinction procedure showed no effect on any fear measures. The findings suggest that counterconditioning with positive modelling can be used as an effective early intervention to reduce the behavioral and physiological effects of vicarious fear learning in childhood.
  • References (69)
    69 references, page 1 of 7

    Askew, C., Dunne, G., Özdil, Z., Reynolds, G., & Field, A. P. (2013). Stimulus fear-relevance and the vicarious learning pathway to childhood fears. Emotion, 13, 915-925. doi:10.1037/a0032714

    Askew, C., & Field, A. P. (2007). Vicarious learning and the development of fears in childhood. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 45, 2616-2627. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2007.06.008

    Askew, C., & Field, A. P. (2008). The vicarious learning pathway to fear 40 years on. Clinical Psychology Review, 28, 1249-1265. doi:10.1016/j. cpr.2008.05.003

    Askew, C., Kessock-Philip, H., & Field, A. P. (2008). Interactions between the indirect pathways to fear in children: What happens when verbal threat information and vicarious learning combine? Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 36, 491-505. doi:10.1017/ S1352465808004402

    Askew, C., Reynolds, G., Fielding-Smith, S., & Field, A. P. (2016). Inhibition of vicariously learned fear in children using positive modeling and prior exposure. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125, 279-291.

    Bandura, A., & Rosenthal, T. L. (1966). Vicarious classical conditioning as a function of arousal level. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 3, 54-62. doi:10.1037/h0022639

    Bates, D., Maechler, M., Bolker, B. M., & Walker, S. (2014). lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using Eigen and S4. (R package, Version 1.1-7). Retrieved from http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=lme4

    Berger, S. M. (1962). Conditioning through vicarious instigation. Psychological Review, 69(5), 450-466. doi:10.1037/h0046466

    Bouton, M. E. (1993). Context, time, and memory retrieval in the interference paradigms of pavlovian learning. Psychological Bulletin, 114(1), 80-99. doi:10.1037/00332909.114.1.80

    Bouton, M. E. (2002). Context, ambiguity, and unlearning: Sources of relapse after behavioral extinction. Biological Psychiatry, 52(10), 976- 986. doi:10.1016/S0006-3223(02)01546-9

  • Similar Research Results (4)
  • Metrics
    No metrics available
Share - Bookmark