|dc.description.abstract||The aims of the present study were to inquire into the origins of middle childhood South
African children’s fears. In order to do this as precisely as possible it was determined to
what extent Rachman’s (1977, 1991) three pathways played a role in the experience of
the selected sample’s fears; in intensifying their fears; and finally in the actual onset of
their fears. The results were examined across the independent variables age, gender,
socio-economic status (SES), and culture. In addition, Rachman’s (1977; 1991)
hypothesis that stronger, more intense fears originate through Conditioning experiences,
while less intense, everyday fears originate through the indirect pathways, namely
Modeling and Negative Information/Instruction was tested.
The participants consisted of a sample of 660 children aged between 10 and 14 years,
attending grades 5 and 7, representing the three main cultural groups found in the
Western Cape, South Africa, and residing in low, middle and high socio-economic
residential areas. Participants completed a short biographical questionnaire and the Fear
Option List (FOL).
Data analysis revealed that the majority of participants reported Modeling experiences in
connection to their greatest fear, followed by Information and Conditioning experiences.
Significant gender, SES, and cultural differences were found. The majority of participants
reported that Information experiences were responsible for intensifying their greatest fear,
and thus playing a role in maintaining it, followed by Modeling and Conditioning
experiences. Significant gender, SES, and cultural differences were found. With regard to
the actual onset of participants fears, the majority of participants reported that they had no
clear idea of how their fear began, followed by Information, Conditioning, and Modeling.
Only significant SES and cultural differences were found.
The first half of Rachman’s (1977; 1991) hypothesis was confirmed in that stronger,
more intense fears were found to be strongly related to Conditioning experiences. However, the second part of his hypothesis that less intense, everyday fears are likely to
originate through the indirect pathways was not confirmed.
The implications of the present study’s findings within a South African context are
discussed, as well as the limitations of the study and suggestions for future research.||en_ZA