Fear of the beast: a prospective study on the effects of negative information on childhood fear
SourceBehaviour Research and Therapy, 41, 2, (2003), pp. 195-208
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OGG
Behaviour Research and Therapy
The current study examined the effects of negative information on the enhancement of childhood fear. A large group of normal primary school children aged between 4 and 12 years (N=285) received either negative or positive information about an unknown, doglike animal, called 'the beast'. Children's fears were assessed at three points in time: before, directly after, and one week after the information about the beast was provided (i.e., pre-, post- and follow-up assessment). Results showed that type of information changed children's fear of the beast in the predicted direction with negative information increasing fear levels and positive information decreasing fear levels. This was not only the case directly after the experimental manipulation but also at one week follow-up. Furthermore, fear of the beast appeared to generalize, that is, children who became more fearful of the beast after receiving negative information, also became more apprehensive of other dogs and predators.
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