Scares to death. Scientists told why we are afraid of creeping reptiles, crowding and heights
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Psychologists told how and why arachnophobia, acrophobia, entomophobia and claustrophobia arose.
insects, others are afraid of heights or darkness, writes the Daily Mail.
All our fears have reasons and a history of occurrence. Psychologists have shed light on why some of us are so afraid of spiders, snakes or closed spaces.
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Acrophobia, or fear of heights, is one of the most common fears in the world. Polls show that a third of the world's population experiences discomfort to one degree or another, and only 3-5% of the world's population say they have no fear of heights.
For a long time it was believed that fear of heights arises as a result of traumatic experiences, such as injury from a fall. However, the researchers found no connection between experience and acrophobia and suggested that it is an innate fear.
Evolutionary psychologists believe that people with a fear of heights are more likely to avoid potentially dangerous situations. It is assumed that they have a better chance of surviving from an evolutionary point of view, and therefore pass on their fears to the next generation.
Research also shows that fear of heights increases with age because it is directly related to a sense of balance. According to Kevin Gurnay, a professor at King's College London, our balance organ deteriorates over the years and we probably feel more vulnerable.
It is curious that acrophobes perceive heights as higher than those who do not experience fear .
While not all spiders are venomous, the movement of their tiny legs across the floor can make many of us tremble in fear. According to psychology professor John May, everything about spiders scares us – their angular legs, dark colors, and even the fact that they move unpredictably.
The fact is that people, as a rule, do not like angular shapes , but I prefer curved ones, and also associate dark colors with something bad and prefer creatures whose logic of movement we understand. Spiders seem to have caught a combo and ticked off all of these items.
Curiously, people who are afraid of spiders, like agrophobes, are more likely to exaggerate the size of spiders, and also tell stories about spiders getting into someone's mouth, which they really do not.
Professor May also notes that this phobia is “socially conditioned”, and therefore we are more likely to develop it at an older age if we encounter a manifestation of fear from parents or relatives in childhood.
Some of us are afraid not only of spiders, but also of a whole range of creeping reptiles – for example, cockroaches. Scientists suggest that this phobia is related to the feeling of disgust “rejection reaction”.
Researchers suggest that disgust originates from the desire to protect ourselves, for example, we develop a natural aversion to rotten food, because it makes us sick. By the same principle, we evaluate the presence of insects, they seem to us a sign of something unsafe – a decaying animal or excrement. As a result, our disgust protects us.
A study by a group of scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology found that seeing insects in most of us elicits a response in the insular lobe of the brain associated with disgust. At the same time, the amygdala, associated with fear, worked only while watching videos with scary animals.
It is curious that insects in the house cause more disgust in people than in the wild. Scientists speculate that this may be due to feelings of intrusion or because insects in the home signal pollution and may be associated with disease.
The fear of small closed spaces has become a reason for scientific disputes. Scientists suggest that, like acrophobia, it may be associated with traumatic experiences. However, many people who have traumatic experiences in confined spaces do not develop claustrophobia, which is why scientists believe there are other factors.
Some behavioral scientists suggest that the fear of enclosed spaces may be nothing more than a product of evolution – tight spaces pose a threat to survival due to suffocation or entrapment.
However, research has shown that people who project their personal space far beyond the body, are more likely to suffer from claustrophobia. Tests have shown that claustrophobics underestimate horizontal distances.
Scientists believe that the fear of snakes is not related to exposure – after all, many people suffering from ophidiophobia live in countries where encounters with amphibians would be rare.Researchers have concluded that this phobia is evolutionary and was instilled in people by their ancestors after they managed to avoid poisonous reptiles and were able to reproduce.
It is curious that images of snakes can cause a stress response in infants of age only 6 months. The researchers concluded that ophidiophobia is clearly an inherited response to stress and predisposes us to perceive snakes as dangerous and disgusting.