Research: McGLYNN and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 52


McGLYNN and colleagues, Department of Psychology, Auburn University, AL 36849-5214 USA studied the effects of relaxation training upon fear of snake phobics.



: 20 carefully selected snake phobics were exposed to a caged snake for 8 trials on a conveyor apparatus. During the first and eighth trials the subjects brought the snake toward themselves as closely as tolerable; records were kept of the end-of-trial distances remaining between the subject and the snake. For the 6 intervening trials the experimenter placed the snake a standard distance away; records were kept of the subjects' heart rates and skin-conductance levels prior to and during the exposures and of their self-reported fear intensities following the exposures. Half of the subjects had received six sessions of progressive relaxation training prior to the exposures.


Compared to those subjects who had received relaxation training, those who had not received relaxation training had heightened arousal and fear levels in the context of in vivo exposure. Relaxation worked by lowering arousal throughout the course of exposure, not by hastening or facilitating arousal decrement during exposure.



McGlynn FD et al. Relaxation training inhibits fear and arousal during in vivo exposure to phobia-cue stimuli. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 30(3): 155-68. Sep 1999.

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