The time course of location-avoidance learning in fear of spiders
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Number of pages
SourceCognition & Emotion, 30, 3, (2016), pp. 430-443
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI KLP
Cognition & Emotion
SubjectExperimental Psychopathology and Treatment
Two experiments were designed to study the time course of avoidance learning in spider fearfuls (SFs) under controlled experimental conditions. To achieve this, we employed an immersive virtual environment (IVE): While walking freely through a virtual art museum to search for specific paintings, the participants were exposed to virtual spiders. Unbeknown to the participants, only two of four museum rooms contained spiders, allowing for avoidance learning. Indeed, the more SF the participants were, the faster they learned to avoid the rooms that contained spiders (Experiment. 1), and within the first six trials, high fearfuls already developed a preference for starting their search task in rooms without spiders (Experiment 2). These results illustrate the time course of avoidance learning in SFs, and they speak to the usefulness of IVEs in fundamental anxiety research.
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