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Here's Why Humans Fear Snakes And Spiders

Fear and disgust of snakes and spiders is deep-seated in humans. The same fear is sighted in adults as in infants.

Here's Why Humans Fear Snakes And Spiders

Fear of snakes and spiders is deep-seated in us

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Fear of snakes and spiders is deep-seated in humans
  2. This fear may even end up becoming anxiety affecting daily life
  3. Infants experience a stress reaction when the spot a spider or a snake
Fear and disgust of snakes is not a new phenomenon. Irrespective of how often one comes in contact with snakes, this fear is constant. But what's curious is the fact that it has yet not been stated why this fear continues to trouble people, is it innate or do people learn it. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig recently discovered and showed that this fear is hereditary. Babies feel the same fear when they see such creatures much before they can learn how to react to the same.

It is presumed that in the industrialized nations, like middle Europe, a lot of people never even come across spiders and snakes, yet people shiver at the thought of a spider crawling up their arm. This is irrespective of how harmless the creature might be.

This fear may even end up becoming anxiety which hampers a person's daily life. A person may experience a phobia of these creatures and may even refrain from entering a place which is not declared spider or snake-free. In the developed nations, where the chances of encounter are very low, around five per cent of the population experiences real phobia of snakes and spiders.

Till date, it was not clear where exactly this fears or anxiety comes from. Some scientists believe that this fear comes from what kids see around themselves and other feel that the fear is simply innate. The previous studies, however, were subject to a drawback as they were all conducted with older children or adults. As a result, it was difficult to distinguish which form of behavior was inborn and which one was inherited.


Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig and the Uppsala University, Sweden made an important observation most recently. They discovered that infants experience a stress reaction when the spot a spider or a snake. This takes place at an age as young as six months, when they are still immobile and unaware of how dangerous these animals can be.

What's more interesting is the fact that babies do not associate pictures of rhinos or bears with such fear. It is presumed that fear of syringes and sockets and knives are also subject to the same. 



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