A Moment of Science

Snakes And Spiders

Learn about phobias to snakes and spiders on this edition of A Moment of Science.

Close up of an albino snake

Photo: Tambako The Jaguar (flickr)

Are you more afraid of spiders, or are you more afraid of snakes?

Awhile back, participants in a study were asked to identify as quickly as possible the pictures of spiders and snakes among less ominous things like flowers and fungi. They were also asked to do the reverse: to find the flowers and fungi among pictures of spiders and snakes.

The scientists found that a significant majority of participants were quicker to identify the snakes and spiders than the flowers and fungi. They also found that people with phobias of spiders and snakes were even faster than those without phobias.

There’s a similar study that shows how we are similarly quick to notice angry faces in a crowd, as opposed to more benign faces. These results suggest that we might be predisposed to seek out these potential threats. The theory is that this heightened perception is a remnant of our primal past, when humans needed this perception to survive.

Read More:

  • Tots Fearless When Facing Spiders, Snakes, Study Finds (NBC News)
  • Snakes On The Brain (ScienceDaily)

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