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DamionFury t1_iy9j6p8 wrote

Likely not solely to do with spiders, but we have an actual in-built ability to rapidly identify things like spiders in our environment. It's a phenomenon pretty specific to spiders and snakes. Here's a article from 2015 on our predisposition:

It is present very early on; as early as a few months old. This study found that presenting 5-month-old babies with pictures of shapes in 3 different configurations, one of which was a spider, resulted in the child focusing on the spider above other images.

Here's another article that talks about it.

Note: There's no evidence of an instinctual fear response; just the tendency to identify and fixate on spider and snake images. Still, the ability to identify them in our environment probably relates to survival; individuals that had that ability were more likely to survive and procreate.


glowing-fishSCL t1_iy9xakm wrote

And in the present day, fear of spiders isn't as instinctual and universal as people think, I think most cultures have some strong feelings about spiders, but I know of at least one major culture (Arabic) where spiders are considered positively.


ScoobyDeezy t1_iyathye wrote

I tend to think of most phobias as leftover evolutionary responses to existential dangers.