Sources of Fear

The process by which fears are acquired seems to involve three factors:

1. Inborn sources. Each baby enters the world with certain dispositions or basic personality traits, called temperaments. The temperamental styles of individuals seem to be enduring and appear to make some children vulnerable to the development of fear. These children may be more affected by and less able to cope with stressful experiences.

2. Experiences. Direct encounters with negative events can lead to fear by way of classical conditioning: The ability of a previously unfeared stimulus to elicit fear is increased when it becomes associated with an event that already elicits a fear reaction.

3. Thinking and imagination. Fears can also arise out of children's imagination, particularly when incorrect ideas and faulty reasoning are involved.

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