Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Millis, Keith K.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Animal phobias--Treatment; Animal phobias--Study and teaching


This dissertation research compared the efficacy of two delivery methods of psychoeducation for spider phobia. Handout Delivery (HD) presented the psychoeducation explicitly, so participants were aware their phobias were being addressed. Story Delivery (SD) presented the information implicitly, embedded within a fictional narrative, so participants were largely unaware their phobias were being addressed. SD was hypothesized to produce greater fear reduction than HD, due to Narrative Interference (NI), the tendency for rich narrative to compete with or alter readers’ semantic memory. The results suggest that HD reduces self-reported phobic cognitions, whereas SD reduces phobic responses to spider stimuli. SD produced NI across general and circumscribed retrieval contexts, whereas HD produced NI primarily in a circumscribed retrieval context. These findings might suggest that SD is a more robust and generalizable delivery method for psychoeducation. SD might be more efficacious because story readers are focused on building a rich situation model, and are therefore less likely to evaluate, resist, and reject the psychoeducation.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [95]-107).


v, 143 pages




Northern Illinois University

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