It was hypothesized that a brief experience of self-directed mastery after phobic behavior had been eliminated by participant modeling would enhance generalized changes in psychological functioning. Adult phobics received participant modeling alone, or participant modeling followed by self-directed performance with either familiar or varied threats. Subjects who had the benefit of independent mastery experiences, compared to those who received participant modeling alone, displayed more generalized behavioral changes, greater fear reduction, higher levels of self-competency, and less fear of threats beyond the one specifically treated. Self-directed performance with a familiar threat, however, extinguished fears more thoroughly and induced a stronger sense of self-competency than did coping independently with varied threats. The overall evidence indicates that the successful transfer effects resulted from stimulus generalization, enhancement of self-adequacy. and acquisition of a generalizable skill for coping with fear-provoking situations.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
* This research was supported by Public Health Research Grant M-5162 from the National Institute of Mental Health. The authors are grateful to Jan Beyer and Mary Bandura for their assistance in various phases of this research.