Born to fear: Non-associative vs associative factors in the etiology of phobias

Susan Mineka*, Arne Öhman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Poulton and Menzies (Behaviour Research & Therapy 40(2001) 127-149) review two lines of evidence as supporting an non-associative pathway to the origins of "evolutionary relevant phobias ". First, in retrospective studies of mode of onset some recall they have always had this fear. We review here solid evidence that retrospective recall is notoriously unreliable. Second, they note as many nonphobics recall relevant associative learning experiences as do phobics. We argue such studies are very inconclusive because they fail to consider many experiential and personality vulnerability (and invulnerability) factors that strongly impact the outcome of any putative learning experience. Their argument also does not explain the transition from developmental fears to phobias that is central to their thesis. Overall, we call for major methodological improvements in this area, in the context of theoretical developments pointing to interacting vulnerability and invulnerability factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-184
Number of pages12
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Born to fear: Non-associative vs associative factors in the etiology of phobias'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this