Why are people so afraid of spiders?

Our visual system has the ability to quickly identify surrounding threats - snakes, spiders, dangerous predators (this is an element of the so-called situational alertness, a material about which will appear in the June issue of the magazine).

Psychologists conducted a test on volunteers: they put students at a computer with a simple graphic test, from time to time inserting frames into it for a moment with a hypodermic needle, a fly and a spider. As a result, less than 15% of the participants noticed the appearance of a needle, 10% noticed a fly, but more than half of the subjects noticed the appearance of a spider!

Fossil spiders are found in deposits of the Carboniferous period, that is, they existed 350 million years ago, long before man. Many of them were poisonous and with the development of primates began to pose a threat to the latter; primates developed a mechanism of situational preparedness against spiders (as against ordinary predators or snakes). The psychological test is one of the confirmations of this theory. Despite the fact that today there are not so many deadly spiders around us as in the distant past, instinctive fear is still useful even in modern society: about 200 people die every year from the bites of poisonous spiders around the world.


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