Spider phobia in children:  Disgust and fear before and after treatment


Fear of spiders, disgust sensitivity, and spiders' disgust-evoking status were assessed in a group of spider phobic girls (n = 22) who applied for treatment, in a group of non-phobic girls (n = 21), and in the parents of both groups of children. The phobic girls were tested both before and after behavioural treatment which consisted of 1.5 hr eye movement desensitization and reprocessing and 1.5 hr exposure in vivo. Findings support the idea that disgust is an important aspect of spider phobia: (a) spider phobic girls exhibited higher levels of disgust sensitivity and considered spiders per se as more disgusting than non-phobic girls; (b) there was a parallel decline of spider fear and spiders' disgust-evoking status as a result of treatment; and (c) spiders' disgust-evoking status was relatively strong in mothers of spider phobic girls. The latter finding may indicate, that the acquisition of spider fear is facilitated by specific parental disgust reactions when confronted with spiders.






Peter J. de Jongh
Helene Andrea
Peter Muris

Original Work Citation

de Jongh, P. J., Andrea, H., & Muris, P. (1997, June). Spider phobia in children: Disgust and fear before and after treatment. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 35(6), 559-562. doi:10.1016/S0005-7967(97)00002-8



“Spider phobia in children:  Disgust and fear before and after treatment,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed September 26, 2021, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/15382.

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