Is arachnophobia genetic?

  1. Is arachnophobia genetic? What about fear of snakes?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Arachnophobia is learned behaviour. Put a very young child next to a spider and they won't bat an eyelid.
     
  4. arildno

    arildno 12,015
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    Fear of snakes HAS a strong genetic component.
     
  5. how can fear be genetic. You think 10 thousand years ago humans were afraid of snakes like they are now? In north america people are afraid of bugs the size of their fingertip, but go to africa or the phillipenes and so forth and no one is afraid.

    What evidence is there of fear being genetic, and define strong for me please arildno.

    To say that the fear of snakes has a strong genetic component, you are insinuating that there is prior knowledge of a snake to someone who has never seen one before. Imagine a baby kept in confinement for 20 years(assuming no negative psychological ramifications for being in confinement for 20 years), then expose that person to a snake. Are you telling me that there would be a fear instilled genetically into this being, even though he/she does not even know what a snake is? And if there was fear, the fear would have to be fear of the unknown.
     
  6. arildno

    arildno 12,015
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    Look at how a chimp reacts towards a snake.
     
  7. Expression (or lack there-off) of certain genes can cause significant disturbances in the neuro-chemistry of brain.

    For example Williams syndrome, in which chromosme 7 is altered, usually causes (besides a whole plethora of effects) humans with extremely little social fear, they are outgoing to the extreme, and doesn't appear to suffer of any of the usual barriers/fears associated with human interaction.

    Ive heard of conditions in which fear is not present at all in humans (prolly in a Discovery channel documentary), they could go balls to the walls in just about everything they wanted to do. The explanation was genetic at base.

    It has nothing to do with how afraid ppl where of snakes 10k years ago.
     
  8. I'm not saying there aren't cases where fear can be genetically based. I'm saying that fear in general is not genetically based. I don't think level of intelligence is genetically based either, I think it is environmentally based, but obviously there are people with genetic defects(for lack of a better word), and thereby have a hindrances based on that 'defect'.

    If we go back to the beginning of time where single celled organisms existed. There was no complexity of thought to even support what we call fear. So i will bring up the same example that was avoided by the both of you last time. Have a man who has never seen a snake before, is he afraid of it for any other reason than the unknown? And arildno, do you understand the ridiculousness of your statement that the fear of snakes is "strongly" genetic, but not spiders. or anything else for that matter. is the fear of heights genetic? what about the fear of robots taking over the world? Do you not think that the common fear of snakes has something to do with the image society associated with them? Like maybe the fact that every single snake portrayed in any movie, religion, book, etc has been evil. Give me biological proof that fear is in any way passed genetically through people.

    Finally, DanP, I think you misunderstand my argument. I know for a fact there are parts of the brain that control fear, and if that part of the brain is altered, there will be biological affects on how that person handles fear. I agree 100% with that. But what I speak of is that the fear of snakes is passed through genetically. I think that that statement is absurd.
     
  9. I'm not saying there aren't cases where fear can be genetically based. I'm saying that fear in general is not genetically based. I don't think level of intelligence is genetically based either, I think it is environmentally based, but obviously there are people with genetic defects(for lack of a better word), and thereby have a hindrance of intelligence.

    If we go back to the beginning of time where single celled organisms existed. There was no complexity of thought to even support what we call fear. So i will bring up the same example that was avoided by the both of you last time. Have a man who has never seen a snake before, is he afraid of it for any other reason than the unknown? And arildno, do you understand the ridiculousness of your statement that the fear of snakes is "strongly" genetic, but not spiders. or anything else for that matter. is the fear of heights genetic? what about the fear of robots taking over the world? Do you not think that the common fear of snakes has something to do with the image society associated with them? Like maybe the fact that every single snake portrayed in any movie, religion, book, etc has been evil. Give me biological proof that fear is in any way passed genetically through people.

    Finally, DanP, I think you misunderstand my argument. I know for a fact there are parts of the brain that control fear, and if that part of the brain is altered, there will be biological affects on how that person handles fear. I agree 100% with that. But what I speak of is that the fear of snakes is passed through genetically. I think that that statement is absurd.
     
  10. Arachnophobia is a irrational fear of spiders, not the normal, run of the mill , fear. Hence it may very well be due to disturbances in the brain neuro chemistry. I dont know if it is actually, but
    it may be.

    About fear of snakes in chimps. It may be learned behavior, built upon the genetic components of survival and fear. A good experiment would be a little chimp which is grown outside it's clan and natural environment, and have cultivated curiosity towards other beings. Then put it near a venomous snake and see how it reacts.
     
  11. arildno

    arildno 12,015
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    Spiders are, in general, less harmful towards cerebrate species than snakes are, and thus there will be a less evolutionary pressure towards making fear of spidery things a widely distributed trait than for wiggly, hissing things.

    Those that didn't feel much apprehension concerning heights would more likely fall off and die, in contrast to those who happened to be slightly apprehensive.

    Because chimps fear snakes, too.
     
  12. arildno

    arildno 12,015
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    Fear of snakes is pretty wide-spread, not just among apes, but in dumb four-footed animals as well.
     
  13. Indeed it is, but this is not evidence that is either genetic or learned behavior. See the study I posted above, the reactions of rhesus reared in wild toward snakes is very strong in many individuals, while for the one reared in other environments seems not to exceed mild reactions.
     
  14. arildno

    arildno 12,015
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    Genes give cues to behaviour, rather than pre-determine them.

    Is the difference in behaviour in the two groups of rhesus monkeys larger with respect to the snake issue, than with respect to other monkey issues, for example how to signal you want your lice removed?

    The fact that lab reared monkeys show AVOIDANCE symptoms towards wiggly-things proves that there is some genetic component at work.

    Interesting study, BTW.
     
  15. So we can conclude that behavioral base in this case has both genetic and learned components. IMO, its a reasonable conclusion.
     
  16. arildno

    arildno 12,015
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    Sure enough.
     
  17. The fact that lab reared monkeys showed avoidance could be attributed to the fact that they have never been exposed to such a thing before. All animals are wary about approaching things that are unknown to them. That does not inconclusively show that fear of snakes is passed genetically. That is not necissarily a genetic component.

    A quote from the study above: "Lab-reared subjects usually exhibited mild avoidance responses to the live snake and practically no avoidance responses to the other objects"

    This study uses the curvy tubing as a representation of a snake, and the lab reared snakes showed no hesistation towards that. I wouldn't say that that is proof of there be no genetics in play, but I would also say that it points in the direction that fear of snakes is environmentally inhibited.
     
  18. Yes, I agree with it, no Avoidance towards wiggly things in lab reared monkeys, but they did show mild avoidance toward live snakes.

    Maybe the genetic component of fear is plainly generic.
     
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