Psychophysiology of fear imagery: Differences between focal phobia and social performance anxiety

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Studied 11 spider phobics and 16 speech anxious undergraduates who imaged fear scenes with spider and public-speaking content and a series of standard scenes that were constructed to vary in degree of emotional arousal and movement. Phobic levels were determined by the Fear Survey Schedule, the Speech Anxiety Questionnaire, and the Spider Fear Questionnaire. Both S groups did not differ on Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale scores. Heart rate, skin conductance, and ocular activity were recorded. Spider phobics rated all imagery contents as more vivid and reported more scene movement than speech anxious Ss. Both groups responded to their own fear scenes with higher ratings of emotion and a greater physiological response than to the other group's fear scenes. The arousal response of spider phobics to relevant fear scenes was greater than that of speech anxious Ss. The data suggest that the outcome of imagery-based therapies may be partly determined by type of fear. (3 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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