The effects of distraction on desensitization and reprocessing


The present analogue study of seventy-two students with mild spider anxiety assessed the role of distraction in the desensitization and reprocessing of aversive information. Accessing different components of Baddeley's model of short-term memory, three treatment groups involving distraction tasks and one control group maintaining focussed exposure were compared in a pre-test post-test experimental design. The results indicated that all groups experienced a similar reduction in both self-report and heart-rate measures of anxiety. However, at the follow up phase, the groups containing a distraction task showed an increase in anxiety levels significantly greater than that for the control condition. No differences were reported between any of the distraction groups.






John Haw
Mark Dickerson

Original Work Citation

Haw, J., & Dickerson, M. (1998). The effects of distraction on desensitization and reprocessing. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 36(7), 765-769. doi:10.1016/S0005-7967(98)00028-X



“The effects of distraction on desensitization and reprocessing,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed January 29, 2022,

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