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The use of stimulus dimensions in judgement making in spider fearful and nonfearful individuals

By Kate Cavanagh and Graham C L Davey


This study uses a multidimensional scaling approach to investigate the hypothesis that spider fearful individuals give priority to a threat–safety dimension when making judgments. The results show that when making judgments about stimuli, spider fearful individuals (1) placed significantly greater comparative weighting on a threat-relevant dimension than on a non-emotive dimension (colour), and (2) tended to rate threatening pairs of stimuli and safe pairs of stimuli as more similar than did the nonfearful group. This prioritised dimensional processing suggests a mechanism by which phobics can exhibit what initially appear to be paradoxical tendencies to give priority to both threat and safety information

Topics: BF
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2001
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