Girls born with fear of spiders

Being scared of those creepy crawlies could be down to evolution and genetics


Before they even hit their first birthday, our baby daughters already associate spiders with being afraid, suggests new research. And our baby boys don’t seem fazed by the critters.


The findings, reported in science and technology magazine New Scientist, could mean girls are genetically predisposed to fearing potentially dangerous animals, insects and arachnids.

The results came from David Rakison, a psychologist from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He showed 10 girls and 10 boys, who were 11 months old, an image of a spider along with an image of a scared face. Then David showed the spider picture with a happy face picture.

The baby boys stared at all the pictures for the same amount of time. The baby girls stared longer at the happy face with the spider, which suggests they found it went against their natural beliefs.

Other studies have shown women are four times more likely to have a spider phobia than men.


Bites from spiders and snakes presented a real danger to prehistoric women, whose offspring would’ve died or faced hardship without their mums. David thinks this is why girls could be predisposed to fear the creatures. In contrast, men had to take risks and hunt for food. We guess being scared would’ve resulted in some pretty sparse family meals for our prehistoric ancestors!

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