Slithering snakes, angry men and out-group members: What and whom are we evolved to fear?

Mallan, Kimberley M., Lipp, Ottmar V. and Cochrane, Benjamin (2013) Slithering snakes, angry men and out-group members: What and whom are we evolved to fear?. Cognition and Emotion, 27 7: 1168-1180. doi:10.1080/02699931.2013.778195


Author Mallan, Kimberley M.
Lipp, Ottmar V.
Cochrane, Benjamin
Title Slithering snakes, angry men and out-group members: What and whom are we evolved to fear?
Journal name Cognition and Emotion   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0269-9931
1464-0600
Publication date 2013-01-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1080/02699931.2013.778195
Open Access Status
Volume 27
Issue 7
Start page 1168
End page 1180
Total pages 13
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Subject 3205 Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
1201 Architecture
3204 Developmental and Educational Psychology
Abstract The preparedness theory of classical conditioning proposed by Seligman (1970, 1971) has been applied extensively over the past 40 years to explain the nature and "source" of human fear and phobias. In this review we examine the formative studies that tested the four defining characteristics of prepared learning with animal fear-relevant stimuli (typically snakes and spiders) and consider claims that fear of social stimuli, such as angry faces, or faces of racial out-group members, may also be acquired utilising the same preferential learning mechanism. Exposition of critical differences between fear learning to animal and social stimuli suggests that a single account cannot adequately explain fear learning with animal and social stimuli. We demonstrate that fear conditioned to social stimuli is less robust than fear conditioned to animal stimuli as it is susceptible to cognitive influence and propose that it may instead reflect on negative stereotypes and social norms. Thus, a theoretical model that can accommodate the influence of both biological and cultural factors is likely to have broader utility in the explanation of fear and avoidance responses than accounts based on a single mechanism. © 2013
Keyword Conditioning
Fear relevance
Phobia
Preparedness
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 10 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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