Fear of arachnids, a class of arthropods that includes spiders, scorpions, ticks, and mites, is known as arachnophobia. Arachnophobia, which derives from the Greek words arachne, which means spider, and phobos, which means fear, may be a crippling affliction for certain people.
According to the American Psychological Association, more than 10 million Americans have some form of fear, and 40% of these phobias are associated with creepy animals like insects, snakes, and, of course, spiders.
WHY ARE PEOPLE AFRAID OF SPIDERS?
What accounts for certain people’s intense aversion to spiders and other eight-legged animals?
According to Dr. Alan Manavitz, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, “We know that many types of spiders are toxic and bite, and we know this through firsthand experience, research, biology, TV, and witnessing other people being bitten.” Therefore, it is normal for humans to experience dread and steer clear of spiders when we see them close by.
According to one view, nurture rather than nature may be to fault. (Arachnophobics were not at peace after watching the 1990 movie Arachnophobia.) According to The Washington Post, the illness is probably more common in the United States than, for example, Cambodia, where tarantulas and scorpions are prized delicacies.
According to another notion, our phobia of creepy crawlies may have kept humans alive in the past. However, few spiders really have fangs big enough to puncture our flesh, despite the fact that most carry venom. Only 12 of the 35,000 spider species in the world are dangerous to people. According to evolutionary psychologists, our earliest ancestors may not have been able to distinguish between which spider bites would be harmful, causing them to acquire a dread of all spiders. And some study backs up this claim.
For instance, when a group of babies were shown pictures of snakes, flowers, fish, and spiders, their pupils dilated the greatest. This research was conducted by a team of experts from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany. According to the experts, this indicates that individuals naturally acquire apprehensions of such species, Live Science previously reported.
A 2016 study demonstrated that arachnophobes also exaggerate the size of the spiders they see. This study was published in the journal Biological Psychology. The study’s author, Tali Leibovich, a scientist at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in New York City, said in a statement: “This study revealed how perception of even a basic feature, such as size, is influenced by emotion, and demonstrates how each of us experiences the world in a unique and different way.”
What is it about spiders specifically that elicits such a negative response? According to Psychology Today, the “disgust feeling” is the key. Numerous studies have demonstrated that there isn’t just one aspect of spiders that causes people to feel revulsion. Some attribute a tarantula’s fearsome behavior to its nervousness, while others point to their poison. All of this shows that people could be experiencing disgust rather than fear.
When an arachnophobe sees a spider, their reaction is frequently visceral. Numerous bodily symptoms, such as nausea, a faster heartbeat, and dilated pupils, can be brought on by phobias. Other responses to the sight of these creatures include frowning, which may have assisted our prehistoric ancestors in dripping poisonous substances from their lips, and wrinkled noses (which are supposed to help keep viruses and unpleasant odors out).