A new study found that giving patients control over their exposure to spiders in one situation led them to choose more exposure in a second setup.
The study used a computer exercise inspired by Perceptual Control Theory (PCT), which had participants choose by moving a joystick how large or small images of spiders were made on their screen (indicating that they were closer or farther away). Participants in a control group, by contrast, were told where to move the joystick. After the exercise, "participants who completed the PCT-based task were willing to get closer to a real spider after the experiment, compared with those in the control group." They also reported fewer and less intense avoidance behaviors in the weeks following the experiment.