Navigation Links
Detecting the snake in the grass
Date:3/3/2008

Adults and very young children apparently have an innate ability to very quickly detect the presence of a snake from among a variety of non-threatening objects and creatures such as a caterpillar, flower or toad, according to a new study by psychologists at the University of Virginia.

The study appears in the March 2008 issue of the journal Psychological Science. "Our finding matches with the evolutionary theory that humans have a pre-disposition to quickly identify a snake," says Vanessa Lobue, a post-doctoral fellow in psychology at U.Va. "Throughout the course of human evolution, humans who could quickly visually detect the presence of snakes were able to survive and reproduce, thereby passing this capability on in the gene pool."

Lobue and her colleague Judy DeLoache, a U.Va. professor of psychology, showed three-year-old children and adults photographs of snakes and various flora and fauna on a touch-screen monitor to see how quickly they could distinguish the snake or snakes from the other creatures or natural objects. They found that both children and adults were very good at nearly immediately identifying a snake from among the non-threatening images, but clearly not as good at finding a non-threatening image from among several snake photographs.

"Unlike adults, three-year-old children don't have much experience with snakes particularly negative experiences but they can detect snakes very quickly, much more quickly than non-threatening objects," Lobue notes.

She and DeLoache also found that both children and adults who don't fear snakes are just as good at quickly identifying them as children and adults who do fear snakes, indicating that there may be a universal human ability to visually detect snakes whether there is or is not a fear factor based on a learned bias or experience.

Lobue and DeLoache emphasize that their study does not prove an innate fear of snakes, only that humans, including young children, seem to have an innate ability to quickly identify a snake from among other things. One of their previous studies indicated that humans also have a profound ability to identify spiders from among non-threatening flora and fauna. Lobue has also shown that people are very good at quickly detecting threats of many types, including aggressive facial expressions. DeLoache and colleagues in her lab specialize in understanding cognitive development and how people, particularly children, process symbols.


'/>"/>

Contact: Fariss Samarrai
samarrai@virginia.edu
434-924-3778
University of Virginia
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Scat sniffing dogs detecting rare California carnivores
2. PET/CT imaging proves golden for detecting cancer in children
3. New, noninvasive prostate cancer test beats PSA in detecting prostate cancer
4. Ecologist finds dire devastation of snake species following floods of 93, 95
5. Magnetic snakes control fluids, gravity-defying droplets, and solving a dragonfly mystery
6. Does the victim affect snake venom composition?
7. Squirrels use snake scent
8. The evolution of aversion: Why even children are fearful of snakes
9. Nanotech could make solar energy as easy and cheap as growing grass
10. Researchers discover natural herbicide released by grass
11. Summer-dormant tall fescue grass shows promise for pasture improvements
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/26/2016)... DUBLIN , April 27, 2016 ... of the  "Global Multi-modal Biometrics Market 2016-2020"  report ... ) , The analysts forecast ... a CAGR of 15.49% during the period 2016-2020.  ... a number of sectors such as the healthcare, ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... , April 14, 2016 ... Malware Detection, today announced the appointment of Eyal ... new role. Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at ... heels of the deployment of its platform at several ... biometric technology, which discerns unique cognitive and physiological factors, ...
(Date:3/29/2016)... , March 29, 2016 ... "Company") LegacyXChange "LEGX" and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased to ... ink used in a variety of writing instruments, ensuring ... of originally created collectibles from athletes on LegacyXChange will ... analysis of the DNA. Bill Bollander ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... Researchers at the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona combed medical journal ... Their findings are the subject of a new article on the Surviving Mesothelioma website. ... the blood, lung fluid or tissue of mesothelioma patients that can help point doctors ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... UAS LifeSciences, ... launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, which ... to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This list includes such ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT ... Ontario biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics ... development and commercialization of a portfolio of first-in-class ... Epigenetic targets such as WDR5 represent an exciting ... significantly in precision medicine for cancer patients. Substantial ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital ... Sports Association to serve as their official health ... Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic training ... association coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. ... Sports Association and to bring Houston Methodist quality ...
Breaking Biology Technology: