Priming of Courageous Behavior: Contrast Effects in Spider Fearful Women
Article first published online: 24 JAN 2013
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Journal of Clinical Psychology
Volume 69, Issue 9, pages 896–902, September 2013
How to Cite
Cougle, J. R. and Hawkins, K. A. (2013), Priming of Courageous Behavior: Contrast Effects in Spider Fearful Women. J. Clin. Psychol., 69: 896–902. doi: 10.1002/jclp.21961
- Issue published online: 22 JUL 2013
- Article first published online: 24 JAN 2013
- contrast effects;
- spider fear;
- psychological intervention
Recently, researchers have called for therapeutic applications of behavioral primes (Shalev & Bargh, 2011). We evaluated whether courageous approach behavior might be facilitated through priming in a sample of spider fearful women.
Undergraduate student women reporting elevated spider fear (N = 33, Age mean = 18.88) were recruited for this study. Participants completed self-report measures of spider fear and dispositional courage. They then completed either a courage or neutral word search prime, which was followed by a behavioral approach task involving a tarantula.
Consistent with predictions, among those reporting lower dispositional courage, the courage prime led to reduced approach behavior relative to the neutral prime. However, no group differences were found among those high in dispositional courage.
These findings point to the importance of self-perceptions in moderating the effects of behavioral primes and suggest limitations to the use of such interventions with individuals with psychological dysfunction.