Self-reported automaticity and irrationality in spider phobia

B N. Maijer*, H.L.G.J. Merckelbach, P.E.H.M. Muris

*Corresponding author for this work

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Spider phobic women (n = 39) and nonfearful controls (n = 41) completed a 20-item questionnaire measuring the extent to which they experience their fear reactions to spiders as automatic and irrational. For the phobic sample, therapy outcome data were also collected. Results suggest that spider phobics tend to view their attitude to spiders as irrational and in this respect, they do not differ from control subjects. Furthermore, compared to control subjects, phobics more often perceive their responses to spiders as automatic, i.e., not under intentional control. Contrary to expectation, no robust correlation was found between automaticity and irrationality. Interestingly, automaticity was not related to treatment outcome, while irrationality to some extent predicted therapy outcome (i.e., the more phobics experienced their fear as irrational, the more they profited from exposure treatment).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-405
JournalPsychological Reports
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000

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