Clinical and Experimental Psychology

ISSN - 2471-2701

Abstract

The Hierarchic Structure of Fears: A Cross-Cultural Replication with the Fear Survey Schedule in a Portuguese Sample

Filomena Valadao-Dias, Raquel V. Oliveira, Catia Rodrigues, Claudia Figueiredo, Isabel Leal and Joao Maroco

A confirmatory attempt is made to assess the validity of a hierarchic structural model of fears. Using a sample comprising 1,980 adult volunteers in Portugal, the present study set out to delineate the multidimensional structure and hierarchic organization of a large set of feared stimuli by contrasting a higher-order model comprising general fear at the highest level against a first-order model and a unitary fear model. Following a refinement of the original model, support was found for a five-factor model on a first-order level, namely (1) Social fears, (2) Agoraphobic fears, (3) Fears of bodily injury, death and illness, (4) Fears of display to aggressive scenes, and (5) Harmless animals fears. These factors in turn loaded on a General fear factor at the second-order level. However, the firstorder model was as parsimonious as a hierarchic higher-order model. The hierarchic model supports a quantitative hierarchic approach which decomposes fear disorders into agoraphobic, social, and specific (animal and bloodinjury) fears.

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