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Talk about your fears to overcome them, says a new study

A new study says that talking about your fears can help you overcome them.
Credit: Oli Scarff

A new study says that describing your fears helps you overcome them.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles found that people could better overome their fears by labelling and talking about them rather than trying to ignore them.

The study urged those with arachnophobia to face their fears and approach a spider as close as they could get, said Wired.

Researchers took 88 participants outdoors and told them to walk towards the hairy tarantula as far as they could get.

They were then asked to talk about the emotions they felt about the terrifying experience.

A week later the volunteers were brought back to face off with the spider.

Those who had expressed their fears and emotions the week before fared far better the second time around and expressed less physical fear towards the spider, such as sweaty palms or increased heart rate.

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Those who had said nothing or had said unrelated things about their experience were still fearful of the spider and were unable to get closer.

"This is unique because it differs from typical procedures in which the goal is to have people think differently about the experience—to change their emotional experience or change the way they think about it so that it doesn't make them anxious," said senior author Michelle Craske, a professor of psychology at UCLA, reported Medical XPress.

"Here, there was no attempt to change their experience, just to state what they were experiencing."

The researchers also studied the words the volunteers used to describe the first experience and found that those who used more negative words were more likely to approach the spider closer-up the next week than those who only spoke with positive words, reported Business Standard.

The findings were published in the journal Psychological Science.

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