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Still Waters

Fear of spiders & snakes is embedded in us

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Snakes and spiders evoke fear and disgust in many people. Even in developed countries lots of people are frightened of these animals although hardly anybody comes into contact with them.

Until now, there has been debate about whether this aversion is innate or learnt. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig and the Uppsala University have recently discovered that it is hereditary: Babies as young as six months old feel stressed when seeing these creatures—long before they could have learnt this reaction.

http://www.cbs.mpg.de/Fear-of-spiders-and-snakes-is-deeply-embedded-in-us

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What if you never had this fear?  I used to drive my poor mother crazy with all the snakes and other critters I brought home and kept as pets. I had aquariums all over the back yard. I don't think see went out that back door for 10 years. My wife says I'm not evolved.

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I can't see it as innate. Personality is shaped, not born.

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Well duuuuh!

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2 hours ago, Why not said:

What if you never had this fear?  I used to drive my poor mother crazy with all the snakes and other critters I brought home and kept as pets. I had aquariums all over the back yard. I don't think see went out that back door for 10 years. My wife says I'm not evolved.

I was never afraid of snakes. Spiders, though...they're so...spiderly.

I think I have an aversion to stuff with what I imagine is too many legs. I don't like millipedes, either. 

I've gotten better about it, though. I don't have spider nightmares anymore. 

Edited by ChaosRose
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2 hours ago, Sir Smoke aLot said:

I can't see it as innate. Personality is shaped, not born.

Nah. Nothing ever happened to make me afraid of spiders. 

And I was really interested in all things living. I used to catch everything imaginable. Sometimes keeping it as a pet, and other times just studying and releasing. 

Everything except a spider. 

My Mom wouldn't let me keep the snake, though. 

I think it's fairly well-known that both nature and nurture contribute to who we are. 

Edited by ChaosRose

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1 minute ago, ChaosRose said:

Nah. Nothing ever happened to make me afraid of spiders. 

And I was really interested in all things living. I used to catch everything imaginable. Sometimes keeping it as a pet, and other times just studying and releasing. 

Everything except a spider. 

My Mom wouldn't let me keep the snake, though. 

With all respect to you, maybe nothing has happened that you remember happened. For some part of our lives we have little to no memory as we get older.

Especially things which stress us emotionaly, people tend to forget some of events as mean to preserve their sanity. Maybe it's some mechanism which our subconscious mind uses to safeguard our conscious part.

I think it is fair point and also resonable basis for discussion about if '' fear is innate or made with time ''.

Personally, in early childhood i remember going to get a ball which made it's way into one big bush near playground. When i got in and took the ball i noticed some sort of spider which had something similar to shell over his body ( yellowish ) with big furry legs. It scared me and most certainly that 'encounter' did shape me a bit but with time i kind accepted spiders, those smaller than the one i saw back then and they do not invoke reaction from me anymore. Still, i am not feeling ok when possibility of bigger one near me is considered. That is kinda 50-50 for fear and accepting. Surely, such thinking is product of my early memory and of growing up.

Respect for having no fear with snakes, that is one line i can not cross and i feel unpleasant even near dead snake lol

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8 minutes ago, Sir Smoke aLot said:

With all respect to you, maybe nothing has happened that you remember happened. For some part of our lives we have little to no memory as we get older.

Especially things which stress us emotionaly, people tend to forget some of events as mean to preserve their sanity. Maybe it's some mechanism which our subconscious mind uses to safeguard our conscious part.

I think it is fair point and also resonable basis for discussion about if '' fear is innate or made with time ''.

Personally, in early childhood i remember going to get a ball which made it's way into one big bush near playground. When i got in and took the ball i noticed some sort of spider which had something similar to shell over his body ( yellowish ) with big furry legs. It scared me and most certainly that 'encounter' did shape me a bit but with time i kind accepted spiders, those smaller than the one i saw back then and they do not invoke reaction from me anymore. Still, i am not feeling ok when possibility of bigger one near me is considered. That is kinda 50-50 for fear and accepting. Surely, such thinking is product of my early memory and of growing up.

Respect for having no fear with snakes, that is one line i can not cross and i feel unpleasant even near dead snake lol

People probably don't need to have a traumatic event, though, to be afraid of things with fangs. 

Have you ever been bitten by a snake?

There are indeed a large number of people afraid of snakes who have never been bitten by one.

Edited by ChaosRose

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Umm, not sure about this.  I have no fear of snakes, though would be cautious and act appropriately if I was confronted by a vemonous or constrictor type.  Spiders, however, make my skin crawl but have progressed from a phobic reaction to finding them unsettling and being able to catch them via a jar etc and removing them.  I too find them too leggy.  It is the thin spindly ones that are the most unpleasant.  Tarantula types don't have the same effect as they are sturdy.  I hate daddy long legs/crane flies because they are spindly, and that applies to any insect that has a small body and long legs, like Mayflies.

Interestingly, when my daughter was small she showed no reaction to flies and bees until aged about 4 when a small friend of a similar age reacted with extreme fear to a fly. Thereafter my daughter exhibited a similar fear.  Some reactions are learned.

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6 minutes ago, Susanc241 said:

Umm, not sure about this.  I have no fear of snakes, though would be cautious and act appropriately if I was confronted by a vemonous or constrictor type.  Spiders, however, make my skin crawl but have progressed from a phobic reaction to finding them unsettling and being able to catch them via a jar etc and removing them.  I too find them too leggy.  It is the thin spindly ones that are the most unpleasant.  Tarantula types don't have the same effect as they are sturdy.  I hate daddy long legs/crane flies because they are spindly, and that applies to any insect that has a small body and long legs, like Mayflies.

Interestingly, when my daughter was small she showed no reaction to flies and bees until aged about 4 when a small friend of a similar age reacted with extreme fear to a fly. Thereafter my daughter exhibited a similar fear.  Some reactions are learned.

It's the opposite for me. I can pick up a daddy longlegs, because I know it can't bite me. 

I find the spindly ones less cringeworthy than the hairy ones. 

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47 minutes ago, ChaosRose said:

It's the opposite for me. I can pick up a daddy longlegs, because I know it can't bite me. 

I find the spindly ones less cringeworthy than the hairy ones. 

How do you find hairy caterpillars , my grandkids say my eyebrows are hairy caterpillars haha

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4 hours ago, Sir Smoke aLot said:

I can't see it as innate. Personality is shaped, not born.

Fears and phobias aren't personality traits.

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Yeah everything with more than 4 legs is granted an audience with Dr. Foot

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That fear of snakes and spiders is an instinct we are born with is something that I have always believed and the study is in line with that.

Edited by fred_mc

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17 hours ago, ChaosRose said:

People probably don't need to have a traumatic event, though, to be afraid of things with fangs. 

Have you ever been bitten by a snake?

There are indeed a large number of people afraid of snakes who have never been bitten by one.

Because fangs are threatening by appearance, yes. I can't remember of cartoons in which snakes are represented as lovely pets either. So, it's partly from appearance but fear from those threatening things is, to some part, also imprinted from interactions with environment.

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17 hours ago, ChaosRose said:

It's the opposite for me. I can pick up a daddy longlegs, because I know it can't bite me. 

I find the spindly ones less cringeworthy than the hairy ones. 

It's the fact that bits (like the legs) can break off that gets to me hence chunky insects, mice and rats (which also scuttle about fast), snakes etc don't bother me. Butterflies and moths come under the 'chunky' sort.  Centipedes, despite many legs they are short and not spindly.  Aren't we weird? :lol:

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It has long been theorized that fear of spiders and snakes has a genetic component.  If you think about how natural selection works, that's not surprising at all.  Individuals who instinctively feared and thus avoided these potentially dangerous forms tended to live longer and have more reproductive success. 

This study appears to support the theory.

I'm not saying that fear can't be learned.  Of course it can.  But that doesn't exclude a genetic component.

 

 

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On 10/21/2017 at 9:04 AM, Sir Smoke aLot said:

I can't see it as innate. Personality is shaped, not born.

I'm not afraid of either but I notice them quicker than I notice other things like ground bees or black wasps. I like watching them. Especially watching a jumping spider hunt or a water snake  eating a frog or fish. I have so much black snakes and garden snakes around my friend asked me if I was breeding them. :lol:

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Wasn't a similar study performed in the 1990's with the same conclusion?  I've never liked snakes, spiders, roaches and the like.  I like caterpillars.  My daughter caught one, put a stick and some leaves and moisture in jar with it.  She was hoping for a butterfly but got the scariest looking moth I ever saw.  I let it go, but it almost looked demonic.

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If fear of snakes is embedded in our genetics, what other "personality" traits have been passed down from pre-history?

Edited by Dark_Grey

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