The role of social groups in fear learning: Is resistance to extinction specific to other race faces?

Hayley Thomason (2010). The role of social groups in fear learning: Is resistance to extinction specific to other race faces? Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Hayley Thomason
Thesis Title The role of social groups in fear learning: Is resistance to extinction specific to other race faces?
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Lipp, Ottmar V.
Total pages 65
Abstract/Summary Fear conditioning studies reveal that fear conditioned to other race faces is resistant to extinction. It is unclear, however, whether this reflects an evolutionary preparedness to fear outgroup race individuals, or is a result of social learning about out-group race stereotypes. The current study clarifies this issue by examining whether faces from other social out-groups, which do not pose a threat but are vulnerable to stereotypes, show the same resistance to extinction. This was achieved by assessing whether fear conditioned to out-group age faces are resistant to extinction. Implicit and explicit attitudes toward out-group age individuals were also assessed. It is hypothesized, 1) participants will show a persistent conditioned response to old faces, but not to young faces, 2) participants will rate the two faces that are paired with shock as less pleasant after conditioning than before conditioning, 3) participants will show explicit negative attitudes towards aging, 4) explicit negative attitudes to aging will be correlated with priming effects. Results are in line with predictions, showing fear conditioned to out-group age faces was resistant to extinction. Furthermore, participants showed implicit biases towards old people, and explicit negative attitudes towards aging. Given that it is unlikely that we are evolutionary prepared to fear older persons, these results suggest that resistance to extinction of fear conditioned to social out-groups, reflects social learning about negative out-group stereotypes, rather than an evolutionary preparedness to fear out-group individuals. Shortcomings of the present study and directions for future research are discussed.

 
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Created: Wed, 06 Apr 2011, 08:44:26 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology