This study tested whether high spider fearful individuals’ implicit and explicit attitudes toward spiders are sensitive to exposure treatment, and whether post-treatment implicit and/or explicit attitudes are related to the generalization of treatment effects. Self-reported explicit and implicit attitudes (indexed with a pictorial EAST) were assessed in high spider fearful, treatment-seeking individuals (n = 60) before and after a one-session exposure in vivo treatment and at 2-months follow-up. A group of non-fearful participants (n = 30) completed the same assessments once. Results show that implicit attitudes did not change following treatment over and above test-retest effects. In contrast, explicit attitudes did change favorably following treatment, but negative explicit attitudes at post-treatment were associated with less pronounced overt approach behavior at follow-up. These findings support the idea that residual negative explicit attitudes interfere with the generalization of treatment effects.

exposure in vivo, implicit attitudes, phobia, spider-fear, treatment
Cognitive Therapy and Research
Accepted manuscript
Department of Psychology

Huijding, J, & de Jong, P.J. (2009). Implicit and explicit attitudes toward spiders: sensitivity to treatment and predictive validity for generalization of treatment effects. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 1–33. Retrieved from