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 Extrinsic Affective Simon Task) were assessed in high spider fearful, treatment-seeking individuals (n = 60) before and after a one-session exposure in vivo treatment and at 2-month 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, adult, article, association, attitude, conditioning, explicit attitude, fear, female, help seeking behavior, human, implicit attitude, major clinical study, male, phobia, questionnaire, sensitivity analysis, spider, task performance, treatment outcome,
Cognitive Therapy and Research
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Huijding, J, & de Jong, P.J. (2009). Implicit and explicit attitudes toward spiders: Sensitivity to treatment and predictive value for generalization of treatment effects. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 33(2), 211–220. doi:10.1007/s10608-007-9167-5