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Origins of fear of dogs in adults and children: The role of conditioning processes and prior familiarity with dogs

By Sharon Doogan, Glyn V. Thomas

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Abstract

One hundred adults and 30 children completed questionnaires to investigate fear of dogs. Dog fearful adults asked to recall the origins of their fear reported classical conditioning experiences more frequently than vicarious acquisition or informational transmission. Overall, however, there was no difference in the frequency of attacks reported by the fearful and non-fearful groups. Significantly more fearful than non-fearful adults reported little contact with dogs prior to the onset of their fear which suggests that early non-eventful exposure to dogs may prevent a conditioning event from producing a dog phobia. Most adults reported that their fear began in childhood, and dog fears were more frequently reported by children than by adults. In the aggregate, however, dog-fearful adults and children differed in several ways: children were more likely than adults to report having received warnings about dogs, but also to recognize the potential attractiveness of a friendly dog. Unlike dog-fearful children, dog-fearful adults reported many other fears in addition to their fear of dogs. A better understanding of fear of dogs in adults may depend on discovering why some dog-fearful children, but not others, apparently lose their fear of dogs as they become older.

Submitter

Megan Kendall

Purdue University

Date 1992
Publication Title Behaviour Research and Therapy
Volume 30
Issue 4
Pages 387-394
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/0005-7967(92)90050-Q
URL http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/000579679290050Q
Language English
Notes This article was used with permission by Elsevier
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Adults
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animals in culture
  4. Child behavior
  5. Dogs
  6. Fear
  7. Mammals
  8. Pets and companion animals
  9. phobias