Preparedness theory of fear

Introduction Despite 50 years of development experience, fundamental questions remain unanswered. The world still lacks a comprehensive theoretical framework that adequately explains such phenomenon as the accelerating velocity of development exhibited by East Asian countries, the failure of Malthusian projections, the growing contribution of non-material resources not subject to depletion, the apparent failure of market policies in the transition of Eastern Europe, and conflicting predictions about the future of work based on the contrary recent experiences of North America and Western Europe.

Preparedness theory of fear

Example Essays Pavlovian conditioning is basic to learning and is obviously a critical factor in the acquisition of phobias. This model assumes that all members of a species share a common set of reflexes, hard-wired responses to certain stimuli. These unconditional reflexes are critical to survival.

Pavlovian conditioning, which relies on these reflexes, or the stimulus-response relationship, has been shown to be fundamental to learning such that all animals learn to adapt to their environment based on this concept.

Preparedness theory of fear

The traditional learning model, based on animal Preparedness theory of fear research, has been extraordinarily useful but unfortunately very limited where phobias are concerned McNally First of all, one cannot assume that human phobias are the same as fears conditioned in animals in a laboratory, and they are not, as will be discussed later.

Field and Davey also had the following problems with the traditional model Phobias, for one, tend to be highly resistant to extinction, more so than other acquired responses.

Some phobics have no memory of an aversive conditioning event at the onset of their phobia while others recall an associated traumatic event. Some persons become more phobic with successive presentations of the conditioned stimulus, even when this stimulus is unreinforced by an aversive conditioned response.

Furthermore, not everybody who undergoes a traumatic experience will develop a phobia. In addition, while the Pavlovian model views all stimuli as being equivalent in their ability to create an association with a negative consequence, phobias should be uniformly distributed across a broad range of experiences Field and Davey It is obvious, however, that this is not the case, since some fears are more common than others.

While most Americans, for example, live in an urban environment, they are more fearful in both intensity and frequency of insects, reptiles, heights, and storms than guns, cars, and stoves, even though nonbiological stimuli have a much higher likelihood of being associated with an aversive consequence.

Also, human phobias of animals tend to be developed at younger ages, when they are still vulnerable to predators. Thorpe and Salkovskis have noted other pathways to fear besides the Pavlovian model of direct acquisition through conditioning: So other factors must be at work besides direct Pavlovian conditioning if we are to explain these variations.

Coming from an evolutionary point of view, Seligman proposed a theory wherein an organism evolves a predisposition, or preparedness, to learn certain associations that are important for survival Seligman noted four characteristics of phobias that differentiate them from fears conditioned in the laboratory: Ease of acquisition refers to the number of trial repetitions required to elicit a fearful response from the stimulus.

In the case of phobias, a single trial can be sufficient and often is. Irrationality, or noncognitiveness, refers to the fact that a phobic will continue to be fearful in the presence of the object of fear even after it is clear that no threat exists.

Belongingness is the quality a person recognizes when realizing that a stimulus and response are paired, such as the object of a phobia and the threat it posed in prehistoric times. A high resistance to extinction is even today the hallmark of a phobia. It is, indeed, one of the most challenging aspects of phobias.

Mineka has been a strong supporter of preparedness theory It had been thought that monkeys were innately fearful of snakes; however, Mineka demonstrated that when first exposed to a snake, a lab-reared monkey will show no fear.

It will, however, demonstrate fear if the mother is present upon first exposure; that is, it learns to be afraid by observation of its mother. But this behavior did not carry through to nonfrightening situations and remained specific to biological stimuli.

It was concluded that the potency and rapidity of observational learning in association is due to the evolutionary significance of the biological stimuli Mineka But what of differences between individuals?

The Pavlovian model assumes that inborn reflexes are shared by all members of a species. Since this is a genetic mechanism, and there are genetic differences among humans, some people will be more or less fearful than others, depending on the situation.

The authors noted the fact that primates, the animals closest to us on the evolutionary scale, also commonly fear snakes, although captive primates were consistently less fearful than primates in the wild.

Preparedness theory of fear

These observations are strongly consistent with the evolutionary role for fear. The adaptive nature of this fear is reinforced by the fact that large snakes regularly attack primates in the wild.

The appeal of this concept is that it is allows for the neurobiological point of view of fear conditioning. There is a basic associative level of learning, evidenced by automatic emotional responses, controlled by the amygdala. Then there is the cognitive level of contingency learning, controlled by the hippocampus.Seligman's preparedness theory of phobias implies that fear-relevant stimuli are contraprepared for safety-signal conditioning.

This means that it should be very difficult to establish a fear-relevant stimulus as a safety-signal in nonphobic subjects.

This “preparedness theory” (Seligman, ) was an early attempt to explain human fears in the context of evolutionary psychology. The theory (also known as the “selective association model”) states that humans are biologically “prepared” to acquire the fear of certain objects or situations that used to threaten the survival of our.

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