Mother knows best

Effects of maternal modelling on the acquisition of fear and avoidance behaviour in toddlers

Friederike C. Gerull, Ronald M. Rapee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

189 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The present study was conducted to investigate the influence of parental modelling on the acquisition of fear and avoidance towards novel, fear-relevant stimuli in a sample of 30 toddlers. The toddlers were shown a rubber snake and spider, which were alternately paired with either negative or positive facial expressions by their mothers. Both stimuli were presented again after a 1- and a 10-min delay, while mothers maintained a neutral expression. The children showed greater fear expressions and avoidance of the stimuli following negative reactions from their mothers. This was true for both genders although the degree of modelled avoidance was greater in girls than in boys. The strong observational learning results are consistent with views that modelling constitutes a mechanism by which fear may be acquired early in life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-287
Number of pages9
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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