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

3 Scopus citations


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

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


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