Visual avoidance in specific phobia

David F. Tolin, Jeffrey M. Lohr, Thomas C. Lee, Craig N. Sawchuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Cognitive models of anxiety postulate that fear and anxiety serve as programs for avoidance of threat-relevant stimuli. We hypothesized that exposure to phobia-relevant stimuli would lead to visual avoidance in specific phobics. Spider phobic, blood-injection-injury phobic, and nonphobic participants were asked to view spider, injection, and neutral photographs through a three-channel tachistoscope that measured viewing time for each picture. Despite experimenter instructions to study the pictures carefully for a subsequent recognition test, phobic subjects showed decreased viewing times for threat-relevant pictures as compared to neutral pictures. Results are discussed in terms of cognitive models of anxiety disorders and implications for exposure-based therapies. Copyright (C) 1998 Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-70
Number of pages8
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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