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Behav Res Ther. 1995 Feb;33(2):215-21.

Danger expectancies and insight in acrophobia.

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  • 1Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, N.S.W., Australia.


Differences between phobic and normal subject perceptions of danger were examined. Fifty-nine height phobic patients and a matched set of normal controls gave danger ratings before and during a height avoidance test on a triple extension ladder. Before the test acrophobic patients: (1) gave higher estimates of the probability of falling from the ladder than normals did; (2) gave higher estimates of the injuries that would result from falling, and; (3) believed their excessive levels of anticipated anxiety were more reasonable and appropriate to the demands of the situation than did normals. In addition, during the height avoidance test the differences between the two groups grew as phobic danger estimates increased while control group estimates did not. Finally, moderate, but inconsistent, relationships were obtained between phobic danger ratings and anxiety and avoidance. The implications of these findings for expectancy models of anxiety are discussed. The results challenge the view that phobic patients have complete insight into the inappropriateness of their own distress.

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