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B ENNETT -L EVY AND M ARTEAU (1984) Fear of animals.

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Presentation on theme: "B ENNETT -L EVY AND M ARTEAU (1984) Fear of animals."— Presentation transcript:

1 B ENNETT -L EVY AND M ARTEAU (1984) Fear of animals

2 C ONTEXT Classical Conditioning- Little Albert’s phobia of white rats. Evolution (Seligman, 1971)- evolved to fear certain stimuli more than others because it is adaptive ( preparedness ). Evidence: 1. Pattern of animal phobias is non-random. Some animals evoke more phobic responses than others. Common feature that causes response? 2. Fears not related to actual negative experiences with species. Characteristic that is more important for fear response than dangerousness. 3. Children likely to become afraid approx. 4 yrs. Appearance has innate reasons. 4. Phobias persist regardless of knowledge that the animal is harmless. Basic aspects of the species that elicit response.

3 C ONTEXT C ONT. Explanations Discrepancy: strangeness of the animal. How different it is to us. Aversive stimulus properties of the animal E.g. Making threatening or unpleasant sounds/ smell/ touch or unpredictable movements Mineka et al. (1980). Lab raised monkeys more afraid of model snakes that moved. Supports that there is an innate fear of the way snakes move.

4 A IM Investigate the importance of perceptual characteristics of animal phobias. 1. Fear is related to an animal’s perceptual (visible) characteristics. 2. Acceptable distance from an animal is related to its perceptual characteristics. 3. Animals with greater discrepancy (differences to us) will be perceived as uglier. 4. Animals with greater discrepancy will be perceived as more frightening.

5 P ROCEDURE - S AMPLE 113 patients from local health clinic: Group 1: 64 (34 female; 30 male) Mean age: 35.5yrs Group 2: 49 (25 female; 24 male) Mean age: 35.1yrs

6 P ROCEDURE - M ETHOD Questionnaires on responses to 29 small, harmless animal species. Made clear animals were harmless. Written next to ambiguous species, e.g. jellyfish/ snake. Participants randomly allocated to Group 1 (Questionnaire 1) or 2 (Questionnaire 2). Questionnaire 1: Fear and Avoidance Fear : Rated how afraid they were of each species on a scale of 1-3 (1= not afraid; 2= quite afraid; 3= very afraid). Nearness : Rated how they would respond to being close to each species on a scale of 1-5 (1= enjoy picking it up; 5= move further away than 6ft) Followed by informal follow-up questions.

7 P ROCEDURE - M ETHOD C ONT. Questionnaire 2: Participant’s perceptions of the characteristics of same 29 species. Rated animals on a scale of 1-3 (1=not; 2=quite; 3=very) for 4 characteristics… Ugly Slimy Speedy How Suddenly they appear to Move

8 F INDINGS Participants most fearful of rats Speedy/ likely to move suddenly. Informal questioning: Perceived rats as potentially harmful even though questionnaire stated they were not. Sex differences for 10 species on: Women less likely to pick up or approach. Jellyfish, cockroach, ant, moth, crow, worm, beetle, slug, mouse, spider. No sex differences for ratings on characteristics. Characteristics of animals to which they respond is the same.

9 F INDINGS Analysis of combinations of characteristics using Correlations… Animals less likely to be approached if they moved suddenly. People were more afraid of animals that moved suddenly. Uglier animals less likely to be approached closely. Uglier animals elicited more fear. Slimy animals less likely to be approached closely. Slimy animals elicited more fear.

10 C ONCLUSIONS What an animals looks like determines how a person judges it. Supports discrepancy (dissimilarity to us) E.g. fear animals with antennae, tentacles, eight legs, and no legs more. Support ideas of aversive stimulus properties Characteristics such as speediness and suddenness of movement are fear evoking. Informal questions: Identified that participants found the feel of an animal to be important in fear response.

11 E VALUATION - S TRENGTHS Generalisable Approx. equal numbers of men and women. Previous evidence had shown gender differences in fears. Demand characteristics Independent measures: Less likely to have realised aim of the experiment than if they completed both questionnaires. Validity Controlled for dangerousness of animals. Not harmless. Some participants mentioned potentially harmful as factor for answers. Reliability Quantitative and qualitative data. Similar responses for men and women.

12 E VALUATION - W EAKNESSES Validity Did not systematically record info on important characteristics participants identified in informal questioning. E.g. Feel or sound of an animal Self-report Accuracy of participant’s beliefs about their responses to animals. Lack of ecological validity. Unethical to test participant’s responses to real animals, if it will incite fear. Representativeness Opportunity sample Does not generalise to clinical population.

13 P AST E XAM Q UESTIONS Section A 1. Outline the procedures of Bennett-Levy and Marteau’s (1984) research ‘Fear of Animals: what is prepared?’. [12] 2010 Section B 1. Evaluate the methodology of Bennett-Levy and Marteau’s (1984) research ‘Fear of Animals: what is prepared?’. [12] With reference to alternative evidence, critically assess Bennett-Levy and Marteau’s (1984) research ‘Fear of Animals: what is prepared?’. [12] 2010


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