Presentation Title

Relationship Between Fear of Heights and Visual Dependence on Childhood Interaction With Heights

Faculty Mentor

Chela Willey

Start Date

23-11-2019 8:45 AM

End Date

23-11-2019 9:30 AM

Location

10

Session

poster 2

Type of Presentation

Poster

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Visual field dependence refers to the relative dependence on visual cues people use to interact with their environment. Greater fear of heights has been associated with greater visual dependence. The rod and frame test (RFT) has been used to assess visual field dependence by measuring the participant’s ability to align a rod to true vertical, despite the influence of a tilted surrounding frame. The more visually dependent participants are, the more likely they will bias their estimates on the tilt of the frame. In this study, we examined if experiences of falling and climbing during childhood is associated with greater fear of heights and visual field dependence in adulthood. We used the 20-item self-report acrophobia questionnaire (AQ) to assess individuals’ anxiety associated with height-related events. Higher scores on the AQ indicate a greater fear of heights. We also tested participants using a virtual RFT to assess visual field dependence. Participants then completed the AQ and answered questions about climbing frequency as a child, the age they experienced a severe fall, and how severe the fall was. Results indicated that greater fear was negatively associated with less frequent climbing as a child. The age of the child at the time of the fall did not correlate with AQ results. No significant differences were found in frequency of climbing during childhood and RFT biases; however, there was a trend in the data suggesting that those who climbed less often tended to have slightly greater biases than those who climbed more often. There may be other mediating factors contributing to both fear of falling from heights and visual field dependence.

KEY WORDS: fear of heights, acrophobia, climbing, visual dependence

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Nov 23rd, 8:45 AM Nov 23rd, 9:30 AM

Relationship Between Fear of Heights and Visual Dependence on Childhood Interaction With Heights

10

Visual field dependence refers to the relative dependence on visual cues people use to interact with their environment. Greater fear of heights has been associated with greater visual dependence. The rod and frame test (RFT) has been used to assess visual field dependence by measuring the participant’s ability to align a rod to true vertical, despite the influence of a tilted surrounding frame. The more visually dependent participants are, the more likely they will bias their estimates on the tilt of the frame. In this study, we examined if experiences of falling and climbing during childhood is associated with greater fear of heights and visual field dependence in adulthood. We used the 20-item self-report acrophobia questionnaire (AQ) to assess individuals’ anxiety associated with height-related events. Higher scores on the AQ indicate a greater fear of heights. We also tested participants using a virtual RFT to assess visual field dependence. Participants then completed the AQ and answered questions about climbing frequency as a child, the age they experienced a severe fall, and how severe the fall was. Results indicated that greater fear was negatively associated with less frequent climbing as a child. The age of the child at the time of the fall did not correlate with AQ results. No significant differences were found in frequency of climbing during childhood and RFT biases; however, there was a trend in the data suggesting that those who climbed less often tended to have slightly greater biases than those who climbed more often. There may be other mediating factors contributing to both fear of falling from heights and visual field dependence.

KEY WORDS: fear of heights, acrophobia, climbing, visual dependence