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Exploring the two pathways to fear: Daleks and Parents

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On a distant planet called Skaro, the evil scientific genius Davros entered an inter-galactic competition to invent the ultimate child-scaring device. His mission, to create a being to invoke fear in the children of Earth. After decades of mutating Kaleds, he believed he had succeeded. Cackling maniacally to himself, he unveiled this weapon of childhood fear: the Dalek. Immediately he began to transmit their evil doings through televisions and the children of earth were soon cowering behind their sofas. Davros sat back smugly, secure that he would win the competition.

However, light years away on the planet Earth evolution had other plans. Over millions of years it developed its own organism for implanting fears into the minds of children. An organism it believed was even more powerful in the terror that it could instil than even a Dalek. It called this weapon of childhood fear ‘the Parent’.

This talk describes a body of work looking at how children’s fearful emotional reactions are influenced by what they hear, what they see, their personalities, and their parents. In doing so, we will try to decide whether Davros or evolution won the competition.

Bio Andy Field is Professor of Child Psychopathology at the University of Sussex, UK. He has published extensively on emotional development in children but in the unlikely event that you’ve ever heard of him it’ll be as the ‘Stats book guy’. That’s because he wrote the bestselling textbook ‘Discovering Statistics using SPSS : and sex and drugs and rock n’ roll’, which won the British Psychological Society book award in 2007. He’s also written a version of that book for R. His unorthodox teaching of statistics has gained him University of Sussex (2001) and British Psychological Society (2006) teaching awards and a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship (2010). In his spare time he plays the drums very noisily in a heavy metal band, which he finds very therapeutic.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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