A Moment of Science

Snakes and Spiders

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

Snakes and Spiders on today’s Moment of Science.

In a resent experiment involving spiders and snakes, participants 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, 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 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 also quick to notice angry faces in a crowd, as opposed to more benign faces. These results suggest that we are 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.

Don Glass

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Don Glass has worked in public radio since 1966. From 1970 to 1990 he served as Program Manager for WFIU, becoming Special Projects Director and Senior Producer from 1990 to 2005. He has retired from fulltime employment at the University, but continues to host and produce A Moment of Science. He enjoys working with A Moment of Science and learning fascinating new facts.

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