The behavioral avoidance task using imaginal exposure (BATIE): a paper-and-pencil version of traditional in vivo behavioral avoidance tasks

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Behavioral avoidance tasks (BATs) have been used for decades in the assessment of specific phobias, but they also involve a number of prohibitive difficulties. This study investigated a new imaginal/self-report instrument, the Behavioral Avoidance Task Using Imaginal Exposure (BATIE), and evaluated whether it was an efficient paper-and-pencil alternative. Forty-nine adults diagnosed with specific phobias were matched to 49 participants without those particular phobias who served as control participants. The participants were 89.8% female and 79.6% Caucasian and had a mean age of 20.81 years (SD = 3.62). Diagnosis was determined using the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule (Brown, DiNardo, & Barlow, 1994). Participants completed a BAT following a BATIE. Results indicated BATIE ratings significantly correlated with BAT performance and ratings. Significant differences were also found between the phobic and control groups on all BATIE ratings (all differences indicated poorer performance or more fear in those with specific phobias). Also, the BATIE scores demonstrated good evidence of convergent and discriminant validity compared to other self-reports, significantly predicted BAT performance even when controlling for those measures of fear and anxiety, and significantly predicted diagnostic severity ratings. Overall, results indicated that the BATIE may be a reasonable alternative to in vivo BATs in certain situations (e.g., clinical practice, unavailability of BAT stimuli).

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Psychological assessment

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