Why do people get scared of spiders?

(Image by Robert Balog from Pixabay)

Question from Alex Roz

There are many reasons why someone might have a fear of spiders, which is known as arachnophobia. It can be explained by human evolution: early humans that were able to spot and recognise potentially dangerous animals such as spiders were more likely to survive than those that didn’t.

Those that weren’t fearful of these animals may have died as a result, meaning that arachnophobia may have been passed on to subsequent generations and ingrained in our DNA over millennia. A traumatic event involving a spider as a child can instil a phobia of spiders, or a phobia may occur as a response to the unsettling unpredictability of a spider’s skittering steps.

Answered by Scott Dutfield for Brain Dump in How It Works issue 143.

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