ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 7, Issue 2, 153-159, 2016
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An Examination of Harm Beliefs in Dog Fearful Children

  Simon Byrne - Macquarie University
  Ronald Rapee - Macquarie University
  Gin Malhi - Sydney University
  Naomi Sweller - Macquarie University
  Jennifer Hudson - Macquarie University

Volume 7, Issue 2, 2016, Pages 153-159


This study examined the role of harm beliefs in the maintenance of childhood dog phobia and the effect of exposure therapy on a child’s harm beliefs. The harm beliefs of 27 children with dog phobia were examined before and after exposure therapy to a dog. Children were shown a live dog and asked to rate the extent to which they believed the dog would harm them (e.g., the dog would bite or attack). The children were asked to complete Behavior Approach Tests (BATs) to the dog before and after the exposure. The children partially endorsed all harm beliefs regarding the dog. Harm beliefs predicted distress during a BAT before exposure therapy and avoidance after exposure. There was a significant reduction in all harm beliefs after exposure therapy with large effect sizes. Results are consistent with theory suggesting harm beliefs have a maintaining role in a child’s phobic response. Results also indicate the effectiveness of one session of exposure in reducing a child’s harm beliefs.

Table of Contents
 Design and Procedure
  Dog Phobia Questionnaire:
  Harm Beliefs:
  Behaviour Approach Tests:
  Self-Reported Harm Beliefs:
 Main Statistical Analysis
 Preliminary Analysis

Correspondence to
Dr Simon Byrne

Specific Phobia; Behavior Approach Test; One-Session Treatment; Harm Beliefs.

Received 23 Mar 2015; Revised 30 Nov 2015; Accepted 30 Nov 2015; In Press 7 Feb 2016

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