Spidey Can": Preliminary evidence showing arachnophobia symptom reduction due to superhero movie exposure

Yaakov S.G. Hoffman, Shani Pitcho-Prelorentzos, Lia Ring, Menachem Ben-Ezra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number354
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Hoffman, Pitcho-Prelorentzos, Ring and Ben-Ezra.


  • Ant-man
  • Arachnophobia
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Comics
  • Movies
  • Phobia
  • Positive-exposure
  • Spider-man

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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