Thursday, 13 Nov, 2008 Science

A Lot of People Are Scared of Spiders. Why?


About 30 percent of women and 20 percent of men are afraid of spiders. Scientists say that the obvious explanation is that people have obtained a fear of spiders due to the fact that we consider their bite poisonous.

A psychologist who works at the University of Würzburg, Germany, together with his team considers that if the upper stated theory is right then people should also be scared of insects that sting, such as, for example, bees and wasps, reports NewScientist.

In order to discover the truth that lies behind the fear of spiders, Georg Alpers and his colleagues carried out a survey asking 76 students to rate images of spiders, wasps, bees, beetles, butterflies and moths. The participants had to rate the photos on three counts: the level of fear they inspired, how much fear they aroused and the level of disgust. The study showed that students had much greater fear of spiders than other stinging insects. They rated spiders as the most dangerous.

According to Stuart Hine, an entomologist at London's Natural History Museum, being scared of spiders is a learned behavior. He believes that it only takes a person to see someone standing on a chair yelling "Spider!" and the individual will collect that fear.

"It stems back to the days of plagues when people suspected anything that crawled out of the thatch as carrying disease," said Hine.

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