The relative contributions of fear and disgust reductions to improvements in spider phobia following exposure-based treatment
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The present study examines the relative contributions of changes in state fear and disgust emotions to improvements in spider phobia observed with exposure-based treatment. Sixty-one treatment-seeking spider fearful individuals underwent a one-session exposure in vivo treatment. Growth curve analyses indicated that treatment was associated with significant improvements in state fear and disgust reactions to a live spider and self-reported trait spider phobia symptoms. Mediation analyses demonstrated that changes over time in state fear and disgust each explained unique variance in improvements in phobic symptoms over time. Examination of the effect size of the mediated pathways suggests that changes in fear and changes in disgust are important to reductions in the severity of spider phobia symptoms during exposure-based treatment. The implications of these findings for conceptualizing the role of fear and disgust emotions in the maintenance and treatment of spider phobia are discussed.