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Behav Res Ther. 1995 Feb;33(2):171-8.

The looming of spiders: the fearful perceptual distortion of movement and menace.

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Department of Psychology, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030.


The current study examined the relation between the perception that fear-stimuli are looming and fearful cognitive distortions. As hypothesized, high-fear-of-spider Ss were significantly more likely than low-fear Ss to imagine that a spider in a room would move rapidly and selectively to them in proximity, rather than towards three other individuals in the same physical space. This finding was observed with a measure of perceptual-cognitive distortion as well as with self-reports. High-fear Ss were also more likely to perceive spiders as angry and belligerent, as intending to move towards them, and as singling them out from other people. These results suggest that perceptions of looming danger and fearful cognitive distortions are closely linked phenomena. Finally, the perception that spiders are looming and the other cognitive variables could be used to successfully classify the fear-group memberships of the Ss in 98% of the cases. Perceptions that spiders are looming made the single largest unique contribution to the discriminant classification function.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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