Seeing Spider/Antman Movies Lessen Fear of Bugs?

What power over the minds of humans lurks in bug-human-hybrid superhero movies? One study, at least, asks that question.

The study is: ” ‘Spidey Can’: Preliminary Evidence Showing Arachnophobia Symptom Reduction Due to Superhero Movie Exposure,” Yaakov S.G. Hoffman, Shani Pitcho-Prelorentzos, Lia Ring, and Menachem Ben-Ezra, Frontiers in Psychiatry, epub 2019. The authors, at Bar-Ilan University and Ariel University, Israel, explain:

“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)…. 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.”