This study explored the role of threat and contamination-related associations in spider phobia. Treatment-seeking (n=60) and non-phobic (n=30) individuals completed threat and disgust-related Implicit Association Tests (IATs). Phobic individuals were assessed before and after one session of 2.5 h in vivo exposure. To differentiate actual treatment effects from test–retest effects on the IAT, half of the phobic individuals completed the IAT twice before treatment. Results showed that: (1) threat and contamination associations similarly distinguished between phobic and non-phobic participants on self-reports and IATs; (2) only self-reported threat associations incrementally predicted participants’ overt avoidance behavior next to self-reported global affective associations; (3) self-reported associations were significantly reduced following treatment; (4) IAT-effects showed no significant reduction following treatment, and no evidence was found for an additional treatment-induced change over and above test–retest effects.

IAT, automatic associations, disgust, fear, spider phobia
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2006.10.009, hdl.handle.net/1765/17227
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry: a journal of experimental psychopathology
Department of Psychology

Huijding, J, & de Jong, P.J. (2007). Beyond fear and disgust: the role of (automatic) contamination-related associations in spider phobia. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry: a journal of experimental psychopathology, 38(2), 200–211. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2006.10.009