Fear of insects, mainly spiders, is considered one of the most common insect phobias. However, to date, no conducted studies have examined the effects of phobic stimulus exposure (spiders/ants) within the positive context of superhero movies, such as Spider-Man or Ant-Man. A convenience sample of 424 participants divided into four groups watched different clips. Two intervention groups (Spider-Man/Ant-Man) and two control groups (Marvel opening/natural scene) were measured twice (pre-post intervention). The measures comprised an online survey assessing socio-demographic variables, familiarity with superhero movies and comics, and phobic symptoms. Reduction in phobic symptoms was significant in the Spider-Man and Ant-Man groups in comparison to the control groups. Seven-second exposure to insect-specific stimuli within a positive context reduces the level of phobic symptoms. Incorporating exposure to short scenes from superhero movies within a therapeutic protocol for such phobias may have the potential to be robustly efficacious and enhance cooperation and motivation.
Hoffman, Y. S. G., Pitcho-Prelorentzos, S., Ring, L., & Ben-Ezra, M. (2019). Spidey Can": Preliminary evidence showing arachnophobia symptom reduction due to superhero movie exposure. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10(JUN). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00354