Selective associations in the observational conditioning of fear in rhesus monkeys

J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process. 1990 Oct;16(4):372-89.


Three experiments explored the issue of selective associations in the observational conditioning of fear. Experiment 1 results indicated that observer rhesus monkeys acquired a fear of snakes through watching videotapes of model monkeys behaving fearfully with snakes. In Experiment 2, observers watched edited videotapes that showed models reacting either fearfully to toy snakes and nonfearfully to artificial flowers (SN+/FL-) or vice versa (FL+/SN-). SN+/FL- observers acquired a fear of snakes but not of flowers; FL+/SN- observers did not acquire a fear of either stimulus. In Experiment 3, monkeys solved complex appetitive discriminative (PAN) problems at comparable rates regardless of whether the discriminative stimuli were the videotaped snake or the flower stimuli used in Experiment 2. Thus, monkeys appear to selectively associate snakes with fear.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Appetitive Behavior
  • Arousal
  • Association Learning*
  • Attention*
  • Conditioning, Classical*
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Problem Solving
  • Social Environment