Valiente, R.M., Chorot, P., Sandin, Santed, M.A., Universidad Nacional de Educacin a Distancia (UNED) and Sanchez-Arribas, C., Centro de Salud Mental Villacarrillo, Spain
According to some recent research, childhood and adolescent fears are strongly determined by indirect mechanisms connected to early learning experiences based on observations of ones parents or relatives behaviour (Fredrikson et al., 1997; Fyer et al., 1996; Muris et al., 1996; Ollendick et al., 2001). However, on the basis of information that is available in this matter, a small experimental literature can be reported. Using a sample of 463 youths, 8 to 18 years old, our study spell out the percentage of children/adolescents whose the most feared fears were observed through their family or friends. Results revealed significant differences for each of seven categories of closer relatives (mother, father, sister and brother, friends, cousin, uncle and grandmother), highlighting those referred to friends (35.2%), sisters and brothers (29.5%) and mother (23.1%). Although the findings can identify the influence of vicarious learning in the acquisition of fears in children, it can be also suggested that parents and relatives convey specific fear information to children including, perhaps, information about specific events, which is a relevant variable underlying the aetiology of childhood fears and phobias.