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Abstract or Description

Previous research has demonstrated that female infants are capable of learning paired associations between predatory and emotional stimuli that male infants do not learn (Rakison, in review). These findings come in conjunction with evidence pointing towards inherent evolutionary psychological learning mechanisms that allow for the rapid detection of, attending to, and learning about predatory animals that allow for the learning of fear and appropriate fear responses associated with these threats (Rakison & Derringer, 2008, Öhman & Mineka, 2001). Understanding how these learning mechanisms are constrained and develop is important in the path of research eventually leading to treatments and interventions of phobias. In this study, I examined whether female infants demonstrate differences in learning paired associations between predatory and arbitrary stimuli compared to males and whether motor experience would influence infants’ learning paired associations between predatory and emotional stimuli. Infants 11 and 7 to 5 months of age were habituated to these pairings and tested for learning through dishabituation.


Advisor: David Rakison
Degree: B.S. Psychology