Spider season may be slowly coming to an end, but the fear of spiders doesn’t just go away. The new app should change that. “Avoiding spiders will only exacerbate your anxiety.”
Get rid of your fear of spiders, with only the help of your smartphone; Thanks to researchers from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), this will soon be possible. In the ZeroPhobia app – now still in range testing phase – Users experience what it’s like to have a spider walking next to or on top of your hand based on different steps and types of rotation.
The important difference with other phobias apps is that they are assisted by University of Victoria researcher Tara Doncker “The Second Handler”. You not only do exercises where you get exposed to your fear (spider), but you can also find out why people are afraid of spiders and how they can do something about it with the help of the app.
The app will be available to everyone (for a fee) in the Apple and Google app stores from 2022, once the testing phase is complete.
From hay cart to tarantula
Manal augmented reality Download, you don’t have to let a tarantula walk on your hand right away. For example, you can first allow the reapers – the “less terrifying” spider, as Dunker’s sample shows – to walk freely or on command across your screen, in which case you can determine which direction the spider is going. Those who dare, can then visually let the harvester walk on their hands or choose a “scary” spider, such as the gray house spider or tarantula.
Dunker: “If you have spider phobia, you tend to avoid spiders—a very logical response. But the problem is that avoidance only exacerbates the fear. Eventually you will avoid small spiders, beetles, or crickets.” She says that’s exactly why “exposure therapy” like this is so important.
The virtual therapist, disguised as an animated spider, encourages users to persevere during workouts and tells them when their anxiety has subsided. This way, you should motivate users to give in to their fear of spiders.
virtual spider web
Donker likes to mention the added game element: every time you open the app and do an exercise, you receive a fly that you can feed to your virtual house spider. Then he jumps for joy and gradually acquires accessories such as a hat or sunglasses. Everything to make spinning seem less intimidating – and motivate users to keep working out.
In Germany, where Donker also conducts research, in addition to virtual spiders, real reapers are also being tested. This sounds awful to some spider haters, she admits. But her belief is that when you finally dare to expose yourself to spiders (“overexposure”), you really learn to deal with your fear.