The current study was conducted to assess courage, defined as behavioral approach despite the experience of fear, in an effort to better understand its relationship with anxiety, fear, and behavioral approach. Thirty-two participants who completed a measure of courage and reported elevated spider fears during an earlier screening participated in a Behavioral Approach Test where they were shown a display of four taxidermied tarantulas and asked to move their hand as close to the spiders as they felt comfortable doing. After controlling for scores on measures of spider fears, courage scores were significantly associated with approach distance to the spiders, such that participants with greater courage moved closer to the spiders. This study advances knowledge about the relationship between courage and fear. Based on our findings, future studies can explore the extent to which (a) courage mediates willingness to engage in therapeutic exposure in treatment, and (b) whether courage can be augmented in treatment prior to implementing exposure therapy.
- Behavioral approach