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Can Reaction To Fear Be Predicted?

1245 words - 5 pages

The idea of fear is a remarkable one. From an evolutionary stand point it is a necessity that helps to protect animals, including humans, from injury or other dangerous situations. But what happens when that fear is either unfounded or a profound overreaction? Why does one person act in the face of fear while others are paralyzed? Is there any way to predict who will act and who will not? That is the main question asked by Peter Norton and Brandon Weiss; Is there a way to predict those that will confront their fears? While there has been a significant amount of research performed on fear and phobias, as well as on the idea of courage, there has been very little research performed on the relationship of courage to fear. In their article "The role of courage on behavioral approach in a fear-eliciting situation: A proof-of-concept pilot study" they investigate the theory that "courage, as opposed to fearlessness, has been defined . . . as [a] behavioral approach despite the experience of fear" (Norton & Weiss, 2008, p.212), and if courage as a measurable trait can be used to predict behavior. In their study, the authors selected 31 participants and measured their levels of anxiety and fear in relationship to spider phobias. Participants were then exposed to a spider, with the dependant variable being how close they could move their hand to the spider, measured in inches. After various statistical analyses the authors concluded that scores from self reported courage measurements were associated with how close to the spider participants ventured.
The study looked at the observational results between-groups obtained from exposure to a constant specific stimuli (spider). Participants were obtained from a group of undergraduate psychology students from the University of Houston, who's self-reported scores on courage and fears were obtained from measurements conducted via CM (courage measure), SPQ (spider questionnaire), and SBQ (spider phobia beliefs questionnaire). CM was designed by the authors, while SPQ and SBQ were devised in other studies, both of which have strong internal validity. Of those, participants that scored with statistically significantly higher fears of spiders, were asked to participate in phase 2 of the study. In total, 31 participants (all female) were included in phase two. They were asked to meet with the experimenter, informed of the nature of the study, gave consent, tested on the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-State form (STAI-S), and Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDS) as well as retested on CM (important to note these tests were performed after explanation of the experiment, ie pending exposure to spiders), and then were exposed to the spider stimuli while participating in the BAT (behavior approach test). After exposure to the spider participants were retested via SUDS. Tests were presented in the same manner and order between participants, and the purpose of the tests (spider phobias) were concealed in phase one....

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