THE ROLE OF DANGER EXPECTANCIES AND SELF-EFFICACY IN THE MEDIATION OF SPIDER PHOBIC ANXIETY AND AVOIDANCE
 
Dong, Y.H., Jones, M. and Menzies, R., University of Sydney, Australia
 
A number of potential cognitive mediators of spider phobic anxiety and avoidance have been suggested. Of these, danger expectancy and self- efficacy have been found to relate significantly to this phobic phenomenon (Jones, Whitmont and Menzies, 2000; Williams and Watson, 1985). However, the relative importance of these two different cognitive accounts of phobic fear and the relationship between them has not been adequately investigated. This study examined the relationship of danger expectancy and self-efficacy beliefs in the mediation of spider phobic phenomenon by manipulating these variables using different verbal instructions during a spider avoidance task. Sixty subjects who all satisfied DSM-IV (American psychiatric Association, 1994) criteria for specific phobia (spiders) were recruited for the study. Subjects were randomly allocated to one of four conditions (high danger, high self-efficacy; high danger, low self- efficacy; low danger, high self-efficacy; low danger, low self-efficacy) before starting the spider avoidance task. Manipulation involved different verbal instructions for each of the four groups. Ratings of danger expectancies (probability and severity of harm), self-efficacy (level and strength), anxiety and avoidance were obtained. The results will be discussed in relation to potential treatment interventions.