How Researchers Use AR Spiders To Cure Arachnophobia

Researchers claim that AR-powered “exposure therapy” can assist those suffering from an unrealistic fear of arachnids.

Arachnophobia, aka the fear of spiders and other arachnids, has been proven to cause clinically significant distress for those diagnosed, which is somewhere between 3.5 and 6.1 of the global population. To help combat the dramatic effects brought on by this traumatic condition, researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland have developed a new smartphone app called Phobys.

Available to try for free on iOS and Android devices (in-app purchases included), the appropriately named app uses a combination of augmented reality technology and a form of psychological treatment referred to as exposure therapy by exposing those suffering from arachnophobia to their greatest fear in a simulated environment. The app features 10 levels in total. You’ll begin by simply observing the spider before approaching it and eventually interacting with it. By the end, your eight-legged friend should be crawling across your hand with little to no distress on your end.

Image Credit: MCN of the University of Basel, Mindguide

According to a study conducted by researchers, a group of test participants reported a significant decrease in their overall fear of spiders and other arachnids after using the app six times over a two-week period.

“Before and after the training phase their fear of spiders was tested in a real-life situation, approaching a real spider as far as their fear allowed them,” said the University of Basel on the app’s website. “They also filled out several questionnaires regarding their fear, disgust, behavior and thoughts about spiders. The participants in the group using Phobys showed a significant reduction of fear and disgust of spiders – both in the real-life situation and the questionnaires! Phobys has therefore shown to be an effective way to reduce fear of spiders.”

Image Credit: MCN of the University of Basel, Mindguide

Phobys is available for download now on iOS and Android devices. The app comes with a free test that gauges your fear of spiders. All ten levels can be unlocked for an additional $5.

For more information visit here. You can also learn more about the science behind the app via the teams’ official research paper.

Feature Image Credit:University of Basel, MCN

About the Scout

Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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