Fear and disgust propensity in spider phobic distress

Laura L. Vernon, Howard Berenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three studies examined associations between spider phobic distress and two individual difference characteristics, disgust propensity (sensitivity to disgust elicitation) and fear propensity (sensitivity to fear elicitation). Although the relative contributions of trait anxiety and disgust propensity have been examined, researchers have yet to compare the parallel constructs of disgust and fear propensity. Two studies examined associations cross-sectionally, and a third longitudinal study examined associations of fear and disgust propensity with changes in distress and avoidance over time. In the first cross-sectional study, animal and non-animal fear propensity were independently associated with spider distress and disgust propensity was not. In the other two studies, animal fear propensity and animal disgust propensity were independently related to spider distress and non-animal scores were not. Fear propensity, but not disgust propensity, was predictive of decreased avoidance over time. The results suggest that disgust and fear propensity independently contribute to spider distress vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1285-1296
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Animal
  • Disgust
  • Fear
  • Personality
  • Spider phobia
  • Trait

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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