Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Sid Hellyer

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Phobic behaviour is traditionally described in terms of avoidance of the phobic object. Andrews (1966) contested this notion and formulated several postulates in which approach toward the phobic object as well as avoidance could be expected as the behavioural manifestation of the phobia. In the present research Andrews’ idea of approach is examined with behavioural and pencil and paper measures.

On the basis of Repression-Sensitization Scale (R-S) scores and their self-rated fear of spiders, 30 fearful repressors and 30 fearful sensitizers were obtained. These people were then tested with the Behavioral Avoidance Test designed by Lang and Lazovick (1963), a measure of cognitive avoidance in the form of a word association test (WAT), and a measure of perceptual defence in the form of a scale of ambiguous pictures. The results indicated that Repressors avoided the spider stimulus more than Sensitizers on both of the indirect measures of avoidance. This supported Andrews’ theory. However, the results of the behavioural avoidance test contradicted Andrews’ theory. It was proposed that this may be due to the nature of the R-S scale which may only measure defence style to symbolic threatening stimuli instead of to all threatening material.

The Eysenck Personality Inventory-Extraversion Scale (EPI-E) was used to obtain a measure of extraversion. This dimension of personality was not significantly related to Repression-Sensitization. However, it was found that Repressors were more extraverted than Sensitizers.

The results were discussed in terms of their implications for methods of therapy.

Convocation Year


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