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Behav Res Ther. 1992 Sep;30(5):463-70.

Cognitions and courage in the avoidance behavior of acrophobics.

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Department of Psychology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Fifty subjects (29 fearless and 21 fearful) were tested in a potentially acrophobia-inducing situation, and their avoidance behavior and self-reported fear were noted. Subjects also completed various scales intended to measure their fearfulness and thoughts in hypothetical height-phobic, social-phobic and nonphobic situations. Interviews conducted immediately after the behavioral test, evaluated their thinking, fearfulness and tactics designed to deal with any fear they experienced. Analyses indicated that catastrophic thinking is more evident than irrational thinking in height situations and that such thinking was the best predictor of behavior among the measures used. The results are discussed in terms of their relevance for cognitive views of acrophobia and in terms of their relevance for treatment.

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