Contamination vs. Harm-Relevant outcome expectancies and covariation bias in spider phobia.

P.J. de Jong*, M.L. Peters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Web of Science)
27 Downloads (Pure)


There is increasing evidence that spiders are not feared because of harmful outcome expectancies but because of disgust and contamination-relevant outcome expectancies. This study investigated the relative strength of contamination- and harm-relevant UCS expectancies and covariation bias in spider phobia. High (n = 25) and low (n = 24) spider fearful individuals saw a series of slides comprising spiders, pitbulls, maggots, and rabbits. Slides were randomly paired with either a harm-relevant outcome (electrical shock), a contamination-related outcome (drinking of a distasting fluid), or nothing. Spider fearful individuals displayed a contamination-relevant UCS expectancy bias associated with spiders, whereas controls displayed a harm-relevant expectancy bias. There was no evidence for a (differential) postexperimental covariation bias; thus the biased expectancies were not robust against refutation. The present findings add to the evidence that contamination ideation is critically involved in spider phobia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1271-1284
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007

Cite this