yuxxx664: January 2012 Archives

Fear.jpgPhobias are quite common in today's society. While briefing through Psychology From Inquiry to Understanding, one particular section of chapter 6 stood out to me and this particular section was about phobias. Though you hear about phobias all the time, the fear of irrational things is actually quite rare, such as the fear of knives or electrical outlets. They say that the reason we are scared of certain things is due to preparedness, meaning that we are "evolutionarily predisposed to fear certain stimuli more than others". Meaning that the reason we fear things such as heights and poisonous animals is because early in life those things factored a threat to us. Meanwhile, household items don't strike a fear within us is because there were no such things back in the day.
An interesting experiment was carried out with monkeys who had never been exposed to snakes before were showed videos of other monkeys reacting in horror of snakes. In less than half an hour, those monkeys developed a fear of snakes through observational learning. After such experiments, the researchers edited the videos making it seem as if the monkeys were reacting towards four other items: flowers, a toy rabbit, a toy snake, and a toy crocodile. These edited videos were then showed to groups of monkeys who had never been exposed to any of the above items. According to preparedness, the monkeys' developed fears for the toy crocodile and snake but not the flowers or rabbit. This is understandable since snakes and crocodiles were dangerous to their ancestors.

As interesting as this section was I couldn't help but to think of a monkey that had never been exposed to flowers before. This seemed a bit far fetched and to me makes this experiment a little less believable. Still very interesting though and was well worth the read. But this got me wondering about other phobias such as the fear of clowns, a popular and common phobia. Where did this fear come from? Clowns are supposed to be representations of happiness and cheer but have turned into a symbol of horror and fear. So oh wise researchers, tell me, how did this fear come about then?

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