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Can Reaction To Fear Be Predicted?

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The idea of fear is a remarkable one. From an evolutionary stand point it is a necessity that helps to protect animals, including humans, from injury or other dangerous situations. But what happens when that fear is either unfounded or a profound overreaction? Why does one person act in the face of fear while others are paralyzed? Is there any way to predict who will act and who will not? That is the main question asked by Peter Norton and Brandon Weiss; Is there a way to predict those that will confront their fears? While there has been a significant amount of research performed on fear and phobias, as well as on the idea of courage, there has been very little research performed on the relationship of courage to fear. In their article "The role of courage on behavioral approach in a fear-eliciting situation: A proof-of-concept pilot study" they investigate the theory that "courage, as opposed to fearlessness, has been defined . . . as [a] behavioral approach despite the experience of fear" (Norton & Weiss, 2008, p.212), and if courage as a measurable trait can be used to predict behavior. In their study, the authors selected 31 participants and measured their levels of anxiety and fear in relationship to spider phobias. Participants were then exposed to a spider, with the dependant variable being how close they could move their hand to the spider, measured in inches. After various statistical analyses the authors concluded that scores from self reported courage measurements were associated with how close to the spider participants ventured.

The study looked at the observational results between-groups obtained from exposure to a constant specific stimuli (spider). Participants were obtained from a group of undergraduate psycho...

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...erving those with high levels of self reported fear, and did not include the collection of physiological data. While these are significant limitations, the fact that this took place in the beginning of this branch of research, is understandable. Now that there are indications that the researcher's CM test can predict behavior, a larger more comprehensive study is warranted. I would imagine the researchers next steps would be to address these limitations with their next study, by expanding the sample size, adding male participants, including people who have low levels of fear, and gathering physiological data for correlative analysis to self reported anxiety levels.

Works Cited
Norton, P. J., & Weiss, B. J. (2009). The role of courage on behavioral approach in a fear-eliciting situation: A proof-of-concept pilot study. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 23(2), 212-217.