REDUCING CHILDREN'S FEAR OF THE DARK: A COMPARATIVE OUTCOME STUDY
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractChildren's fears have been the focus of a great deal of research over the past 10-15 years. Studies have centered on the developmental nature and frequency of children's fears, delineating the essential components of certain fears, as well as evaluating the efficacy of various treatment procedures. The present study examined the effects of three behavioral techniques on children's fear of the dark. Nine children who demonstrated a clinical fear of the dark were seen at a university clinic for two, one-half hour sessions each week over a seven week period, with follow-up assessment occurring one and two months after treatment. The three treatments employed were: symbolic modeling, self-instructional training and contact desensitization. A multiple baseline design across subjects was utilized, with dependent measures consisting of the motoric, cognitive, and physiological components of each child's fear and parent data were collected. Significant changes in dark tolerance between baseline and treatment were most consistently observed in those children receiving the symbolic modeling procedure. The next condition yielding the most consistent changes in duration between baseline and treatment was the contact desensitization treatment. No appreciable changes were found in the children in the self-instructional condition. The self-report and heart rate measures failed to demonstrate strong, reliable changes for any subject in the study except for one subject whose heart rate significantly increased after intervention. Examination of parent data yielded inconsistent results across conditions, thereby limiting any conclusions regarding generalization. The results were discussed in relation to the literature on fear reduction techniques. Limitations of the present study were discussed and topics for future research were delineated.
Degree ProgramGraduate College