Journal Article
Validation Study
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Development and initial validation of an open-access online Behavioral Avoidance Test (BAT) for spider fear.

The behavioral avoidance test (BAT) is a well-known diagnostic tool assessing fear by directly measuring avoidance behavior. For instance, in spider phobia, participants or patients gradually approach a live spider until they feel too uncomfortable to continue. However, the use of different BAT protocols in various studies hampers the comparability of results. Moreover, conducting the test requires considerable preparation by researchers and clinicians. Thus, we have developed an open-access online BAT (vBATon). We validated its efficacy in measuring avoidance behavior and eliciting feelings of anxiety and disgust by comparing it to a real-life BAT (rl-BAT). Spider-fearful (N = 31) and nonfearful (N = 31) individuals completed a rl-BAT and vBATon on two separate dates within a 1-week interval. As expected, both tests successfully distinguished between spider-fearful and nonfearful individuals. Crucially, equivalence tests confirmed that vBATon captures avoidance behavior, anxiety, and disgust equal to the rl-BAT. Assessing validity, we found moderate to high correlations between vBATon and (a) the rl-BAT and (b) self-report measurements of spider fear (Spider Phobia Questionnaire, Fear of Spiders Questionnaire). Overall, our study displayed initial evidence of validity of vBATon and suggests that it is a standardized, efficient, and user-friendly alternative to rl-BATs for measuring spider fear. It can be utilized in both research and clinical practice. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2024 APA, all rights reserved).

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