Cognitive models of anxiety postulate that fear and anxiety serve as programs for avoidance of threat-relevant stimuli. We hypothesized that exposure to phobia-relevant stimuli would lead to visual avoidance in specific phobics. Spider phobic, blood-injection-injury phobic, and nonphobic participants were asked to view spider, injection, and neutral photographs through a three-channel tachistoscope that measured viewing time for each picture. Despite experimenter instructions to study the pictures carefully for a subsequent recognition test, phobic subjects showed decreased viewing times for threat-relevant pictures as compared to neutral pictures. Results are discussed in terms of cognitive models of anxiety disorders and implications for exposure-based therapies. Copyright (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health