Demand characteristics and the behavioral avoidance measure of fear in behavior therapy analogue research
Smith, R. E., Diener, E., & Beaman, A. L. (1974). Demand characteristics and the behavioral avoidance measure of fear in behavior therapy analogue research. Behavior Therapy, 5(2), 172-182.
Subjects who had reported high fear of rats on a self-report measure and who had indicated their desire for treatment were administered a behavioral avoidance test under instructional orientations designed to vary situational demand characteristics. Subjects run under a condition in which the demand characteristics favored approach behaviors showed significantly more approach than did a group run under demand characteristics designed to dampen approach behaviors, and also differed significantly in frequency of performing the terminal behavior from subjects run under a traditional instructional orientation. Indeed, 100% of the subjects in the former condition performed the terminal behavior. Significant decreases in self-reported fear of rats following the test were observed in all groups, but these changes were not accompanied by attitudinal changes. Analyses of physiological and self-report measures of fear obtained during the test suggest that demand characteristics affect approach rather than avoidance motivation.
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