Author(s): Smits JA, Telch MJ, Randall PK
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Abstract It has been suggested that disgust plays a prominent role in the fear of spiders. Participants (N=27) displaying marked spider fear were provided 30 min of self-directed in vivo exposure to an actual tarantula, during which time their fear and disgust levels were assessed repeatedly. Growth curve analyses were then conducted to examine the decay slopes in both fear and disgust and their relationship. Consistent with prediction, exposure led to significant declines in both spider fear and spider-specific disgust but not in global disgust sensitivity. However, the decay slope observed for fear was significantly greater than that for disgust. Further analyses revealed that the reduction in disgust during treatment remained significant even after controlling for change in fear; and similarly, change in fear remained significant even after controlling for change in disgust. Contrary to prediction, disgust levels at pretreatment did not moderate the level of fear activation or fear reduction during treatment. Theoretical and clinical implications of the findings are discussed.
This article was published in Behav Res Ther
and referenced in Clinical and Experimental Psychology