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  1. #1
    untitled Chanaynay's Avatar
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    Default Why is fear of spiders so common?

    I almost stepped on one earlier and I legitimately freaked out. And I had to get someone to kill it for me. Not my proudest moment.

    I've never been able to explain why I'm afraid of them so much though. One of my friends is fascinated by them while I can't look at them without getting shivers down my spine. I once found a spider in my room and, after it disappeared, made someone search for it for a solid 10 minutes while I waited outside. I can understand some other common fears like heights, but why do so many people fear spiders?
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    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Because some of them can seriously harm or kill you and you don't know if it's dangerous or harmless until it's too late most of the time so it pays to freak out and be safe? That's my best guess about creepy crawlies.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
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  3. #3
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    Because people are afraid of difference and a spider is physically one of the most different animals to ourselves. But most are completely harmless and only a few are dangerous enough to kill a human.

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    The High Priestess Amargith's Avatar
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    I was taught in behavioral class that the most likely hypothesis is that it is a genetic fear. Iow, it is passed down from one generation to another, because, as @cafe said, many of them are legitimately dangerous to us.
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    It's usually women who fear spiders more than men. I think it is evolution and survival of the human species at work. A woman who fears spiders will always need a man to kill it for her...so no matter how feminist or lesbian she becomes, the chance of getting knocked up by a man still exists...because a spider killer is her lord and savior.

    I think I would place a woman's fear of spiders in the same category as her ignorance of automechanics.

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    Because some of them can seriously harm or kill you and you don't know if it's dangerous or harmless until it's too late most of the time so it pays to freak out and be safe? That's my best guess about creepy crawlies.
    Yes, I consider it evolutionary precautions.

    Note that both snakes and spiders, two of the most common animal phobias, "move" in ways that are not human. The alien nature of their locomotion I'm sure also has something to do with it and how it registers on the more primitive instinctual and emotional centers of the brain. I'm fine with snakes, but when a spider moves, my body responds all on its own -- I just get freaked out.

    I've seen some women freak out similarly at mice, an animal that doesn't really bother me; mice have this weird, unpredictable darting movement.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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    Senior Member Eckhart's Avatar
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    Don't know why so many people are scared of spiders, but I admit I am one of them (as a man). In general I hate a lot of insects, but spiders are one of the worst; the bigger they are, the more I hate them. Really tiny spiders I am not scared of.

    However, when around people where I don't want to show that I am afraid of spiders, I can hide it very well and actually be kinda courageous in the disposal of them

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    untitled Chanaynay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amargith View Post
    I was taught in behavioral class that the most likely hypothesis is that it is a genetic fear. Iow, it is passed down from one generation to another, because, as @cafe said, many of them are legitimately dangerous to us.
    That's what I was thinking! No matter how many times someone tells me something like "it's not going to hurt you" or "it's more afraid of you than you are of it" I still freak out because it's like part of me is programmed to fear it.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Ü™ View Post
    It's usually women who fear spiders more than men. I think it is evolution and survival of the human species at work. A woman who fears spiders will always need a man to kill it for her...so no matter how feminist or lesbian she becomes, the chance of getting knocked up by a man still exists...because a spider killer is her lord and savior.
    That's an interesting way of looking at it. If you think about how many times you've heard of those old fairy tales where a knight in shining armor saves a princess from some sort of scary creature, you start to see parallels. Perhaps it's our way of turning fantasy into reality? So every man can prove himself to be a worthy "knight" and every girl can prove herself to be a "princess" worth saving in the search for a partner.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eckhart View Post
    Don't know why so many people are scared of spiders, but I admit I am one of them (as a man). In general I hate a lot of insects, but spiders are one of the worst; the bigger they are, the more I hate them.
    I relate to this on a spiritual level.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eckhart View Post
    Don't know why so many people are scared of spiders, but I admit I am one of them (as a man). In general I hate a lot of insects, but spiders are one of the worst; the bigger they are, the more I hate them. Really tiny spiders I am not scared of.

    However, when around people where I don't want to show that I am afraid of spiders, I can hide it very well and actually be kinda courageous in the disposal of them
    Wanna go see this with me?
    It'll be therapeutic.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1830713/?ref_=sr_1
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  10. #10
    morose bourgeoisie
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    The universality of this phobia suggests that we're hard wired to fear spiders and snakes.

    Now the real question is: if this is so, how is this fear coded by DNA? Genes code for protein expression, but how is this related? Is it related? Is a fear coded in a different way, possibly through so-called 'junk DNA'?

    Anyway, I used to fear spiders, but rarely snakes. I overcame it though, mostly. It still freaks me out if I feel one run across my face or arm.

    I'm fascinated by memory of this sort. How are instincts passed on (spider phobia could be considered instinctual, if my thesis is correct)? Where is that coded?
    gene expression is caused by an environmental stimulus, and/or as part of a coded set of procedures for known events like childbirth, puberty, etc...

    On the other hand: If I walk into a field with a bull in it, it can create a fear response. this is due to a perception that conditions may be dangerous, but not by an instinct specific to bulls; there is probably no hard-wired phobia about this. So maybe the reaction to spiders or other animals just seems universal because the body is primed to feel fear at something that could be dangerous, whether or not it actually is.
    Maybe the experience of seeing a creature that is so different in morphology is enough to set this in motion, whether you are a marmet or a human...

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