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J Anxiety Disord. 2000 Sep-Oct;14(5):453-70.

Determining the focus of driving fears.

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  • 1School of Psychology, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


Fear of driving has been recognized as a complex diagnostic entity. Studies on flying phobia have drawn similar conclusions, although increasing clarity has been gained through research that indicates that there may be subtypes of flying phobia based on the focus of fear. However, it is unclear if similar subtypes exist for fear of driving. The aim of the present study was to conduct a preliminary investigation of driving fear subtypes and to clarify further whether there were differences between driving-fearful respondents who had been in a motor vehicle accident (MVA) and those who had not. Eighty-five driving-fearful, media-recruited respondents completed a questionnaire that assessed anxiety, avoidance, and concerns related to their driving fears. The sample had high expectations of negative events while driving. There were no significant differences between those who had experienced an MVA and those who had not on various measures of fear severity. Cluster analysis revealed two main foci of fear, one characterized by danger expectancies and the other based on anxiety expectancies and unpleasant driving situations. This emphasizes the importance of assessing both internal and external foci of fear. Although this finding is consistent with the results obtained for flying phobia, more research is required to replicate and extend these results and to develop and evaluate differential treatment programs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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