The attenuation of spider avoidance action tendencies in spider-fearful individuals and its impact on explicit evaluation of spider stimuli.

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Date: Apr. 2022
Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Report; Brief article
Length: 365 words

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Abstract :

Keywords Spider; Fear; Phobia; Avoidance; Approach/avoidance bias; Action tendencies; Training Highlights * Avoidance action tendencies for spider stimuli are characteristic of spider-fearful individuals. * The malleability of avoidance action tendencies for spider stimuli in spider-fearful individuals is unknown. * An action tendency manipulation procedure successfully attenuated avoidance action tendencies for spider stimuli. * Attenuation of avoidance action tendencies for spider stimuli did not coincide with altered evaluations of spider stimuli. Abstract Researchers have demonstrated that individuals with heightened levels of spider-fear, as compared to relatively lower levels of spider-fear, are characterised a pattern of action tendencies that facilitates the speed to complete 'avoidance' movements, as compared to 'approach movements, in the face of spider-stimuli. However, research has not determined whether such tendencies are able to be manipulated, and the impact of their manipulation, in individuals with heightened spider-fear. Seventy-one participants who reported relatively high levels of spider-fear completed an action tendency manipulation procedure. The procedure was designed to attenuate avoidance action tendencies, by repeatedly requiring completion of approach actions in response to images of spiders (Approach Spider Condition), or to have no impact on action tendencies (Control Condition). Participants completed an assessment of approach and avoidance action tendencies to images of spiders and butterflies, and rated the unpleasantness and disgust of images of spiders and butterflies, before and after completion of the manipulation procedure. Analyses revealed that avoidance action tendencies to spider stimuli were attenuated in the Approach Spider Condition as compared to the Control Condition as intended. However, conditions did not differ in the evaluation of spider stimuli following the manipulation procedure. The findings demonstrate that avoidance action tendencies to spider stimuli can be manipulated amongst individuals with heightened spider-fear, though their manipulation does not lead to change in explicit evaluation of spider stimuli. The implications of these findings and avenues for future research are discussed. Author Affiliation: Centre for the Advancement of Research on Emotion, School of Psychological Science, The University of Western Australia, Australia * Corresponding author. School of Psychological Science (M304), University of Western Australia, Crawley, 6009, Australia. Article History: Received 6 July 2021; Revised 21 January 2022; Accepted 25 January 2022 Byline: Julian Basanovic [julian.basanovic@uwa.edu.au] (*), James Page, Colin MacLeod

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A696275040