11/04 Austrian Airlines Research On Fear Of Flying
I’m glad to share with you an interesting research performed by Austrian Airlines fear of flying treatment facility. It helps a lot to understand better the nature of your fear of flying and provides tools for better treatment.
So, participants of fear of flying course were equipped with biological response measurement sensors. It means the researchers were able to get objective indications of people’s stress levels by measuring their heart rate, pressure, cortisol level and more.
All the participants were divided into three groups:
Group #1 — heavily anxious people with additional psychological disorders as panic attacks, claustrophobia, etc. and with a long history of flights avoidance.
Group 2 — people with a fear of flying at such a level, that limits their freedom, but without serious additional disorders and long time avoidance history.
Group 3 — was a control group, people without any phobia or anxiety related disorders.
The most interesting outcome was that at the moment of takeoff, that is a very unusual sensation for most people, Group #2 and control group had exactly the same physiological responses (!!!): increased breath and heart rate, high levels of cortisol (stress hormone), sweating palms and so on.
After a few moments control group showed the significant decrease in stress level, while phobic people remained in relatively high level of stress.
This study confirms that anxious people have little-to-zero tolerance to own emotions or physiological responses which are probably perceived by them as «bad» or «inappropriate.» While people from the control group feel the same feelings on takeoff, they can accept that their feelings are just their feeling. They do not tend to wire their emotions, feelings, and responses to existence or absence of danger.
Highly anxious people make this mistake and link together arousal, anxiety, fear and danger. This link keeps their anxiety relatively high. In fact, their anxiety is not about the flight itself. It’s mostly anxiety about anxiety.
We know what is the reason for such a wiring. This knowledge allows us to teach people to distinguish between fear and danger. It dramatically improves not just their flying experience, but also relationships with own emotions, criticism, and self-blame