Fear of snakes and spiders is innate in humans, says study

22 October 2017, 07:54 AM
Fear of snakes and spiders is innate in humans, says study
Fear of snakes and spiders is innate in humans, says study

Humans tend to shiver with fear at the thought of snakes and spiders around them and the now the latest study suggests this fear is due to an innate ability to detect danger, bred by millions of years of evolution.

Researchers from Germany's Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and Upssala University, Sweden found that babies as young as six months exhibited distress while looking at photos of snakes and spiders versus flowers and fishes.

The study that was published in Frontiers in Psychology, recorded the reactions of 32 six-month old babies after showing them two sets of sixteen images: multi-colored tarantulas were shown back to back with similarly colored flowers and coiled up snakes were tested with similarly hued fish. 

The aniexty in infants were analyzed if their pupils dilated more, a sign that they were stressed out by the images.

Read more: When two neutron stars collided to form gold

Stefanie Hoehl, lead researcher stated, "When we showed pictures of a snake or a spider to the babies instead of a flower or a fish of the same size and color, they reacted with significantly bigger pupils".

"We assume that the reason for this particular reaction upon seeing spiders and snakes is due to the coexistence of these potentially dangerous animals with humans and their ancestors for more than 40 to 60 million years–and therefore much longer than with today’s dangerous mammals", Hoehl said.

"The reaction which is induced by animal groups feared from birth could have been embedded in the brain for an evolutionarily long time.When this accompanies further factors it can develop into a real fear or even phobia.", she further added.

First Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 07:35 AM
For all the latest Science News Download the News Nation App available on Android and iOS.