Treatment of specific fears and phobias is sometimes followed by a return of fear. Work with rats has provided evidence that a greater return of fear occurs when a conditioned stimulus extinguished in 1 context is later presented in a different context than if presented in the same context in which it was originally extinguished. In the present study, 36 human participants who were highly afraid of spiders received 1 session of exposure therapy (with participant modeling) and were then tested for return of fear 1 week later in either the same or a different context. It was hypothesized that there would be a greater return of fear in those participants treated and followed up in different contexts than in those treated and followed up in the same context. Participants tested in a novel context at follow-up showed a greater return of fear than participants tested in the same context. Limitations and areas for future study are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Psychiatry and Mental health