Davey, G. C. L. (2002). 'Nonspecific' rather than 'nonassociative' pathways to phobias: a commentary on Poulton and Menzies. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 40(2), 151-158.

This commentary attempts to clarify the nature of contemporary associative accounts of phobias, and to describe how they might contribute to the explanation of the diversity of phobic aetiologies. It is argued that conditioning-equivalent associations underpin all phobic conditions, and that the role of experimental psychopathology research is to determine how these associations are acquired. The commentary then proceeds to discuss some of the theoretical problems with the nonassociative account of phobias as it is currently described by Poulton and Menzies, and to suggest that some interpretations of their retrospective and prospective data may not be incompatible with contemporary associative accounts. The outcome of this is that it may be more suitable to describe the fourth pathway to phobia acquisition described by Poulton and Menzies as a 'nonspecific' rather than a 'nonassociative' pathway. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Poulton, R., & Menzies, R. G. (2002). Non-associative fear acquisition: a review of the evidence from retrospective and longitudinal research. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 40(2), 127-149.

It is axiomatic that the capacity to experience fear is adaptive, enabling rapid and energetic response to imminent threat or danger. Despite the generally accepted utility of functional fear, the nature of maladaptive fear remains controversial. There is still no consensus about how specific fears and phobias are acquired and modulated. Two major schools of thought are apparent: those suggesting dysfunctional fear arises largely as the result of associative- conditioning processes versus those who favour more biologically based etiological explanations. In this regard, the non- associative model of fear acquisition postulates the existence of a limited number of innate, evolutionary-relevant fears, while emphasising conditioning modes of onset for evolutionary- neutral fears. Recent retrospective and longitudinal studies have tested predictions from the non-associative model. In general, findings support non-associative hypotheses and are difficult to reconcile with neo-conditioning explanations of fear acquisition. These data suggest that four pathways to fear may provide the most parsimonious theory of fear etiology. The theoretical and practical implications of adding a fourth, non- associative path to Rachman's (Behav. Res. Ther. (1977) 15, 375-387) three 'associative' pathways are discussed. Unresolved issues requiring further investigation are considered. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Poulton, R., Waldie, K. E., Craske, M. G., Menzies, R. G., & McGee, R. (2000). Dishabituation processes in height fear and dental fear: An indirect test of the non-associative model of fear acquisition. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 38(9), 909-919.

Examined the non-associative model of fear acquisition (NAMFA) in regard to fear dishabituation (FD) following non-specific stress among 1,381 participants of a long-running prospective study. Specifically, the authors focused on those Ss who reported an onset of height fear or phobia between ages 11-18 yrs and compared the non- specific stress experienced by this group (assessed at age 15) to a group of individuals who did not report height fear at either age. Also, because the NAMFA only predicts FD following non-specific stress for evolutionary-relevant fears, the authors conducted the same analyses among study Ss who reported dental fear and phobia at age 18 only and compared their experience of non-specific stress to those without dental fear. Data for the fear assessments at 11 and 18 and the stress assessment at age 15 were gathered from the health and developmental interviews that were conducted during these times. The results appear to be consistent with height fear and phobia dishabituation. Specifically, a "re-emergence" of a fear of heights is shown to have occurred between age 11 and 18 yrs among individuals who reported higher levels of non-specific stress at age 15. Also, there is no evidence for dental fear dishabituation--a finding consistent with the NAMFA. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2000 APA, all rights reserved) Record 18 of 20 in PsycINFO Weekly 2001/02 Week 3