Self-directed contact desensitization

Martin K. Moss*, Richard A. Arend

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


36 college-student snake phobics (selected on the basis of Fear Survey Schedule scores) received 1 of 4 treatments to reduce their snake avoidance behavior: self-directed friend, self-directed stranger, therapist-directed contact desensitization, or attention control. Ss in the self-directed friend condition used a manual describing contact desensitization to direct nonfearful friends to act as their therapists. Ss in the self-directed stranger condition used the same manual to direct nonfearful strangers to act as their therapists. Ss in the self-directed contact desensitization condition received standard contact desensitization, and Ss in the attention control condition received the manual and attention but no actual treatment. Behavioral and self-report assessment showed all 3 treatments relative to the control to be highly and equally effective in reducing snake avoidance behavior. It is concluded that contact desensitization can be successfully used as a "packaged" treatment in a self-control context. (29 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)730-738
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 1977


  • self-directed friend vs stranger vs therapist-directed contact desensitization, snake avoidance behavior, snake phobic college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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