Navigation Links
Fear of holes may stem from evolutionary survival response
Date:9/2/2013

What do lotus flowers, soap bubbles, and aerated chocolate have in common? They may seem innocuous, even pleasant, but each of these items is a trigger for people who report suffering from trypophobia, or the fear of holes. For trypophobes, the sight of clusters of holes in various formations can cause intensely unpleasant visceral reactions.

New research from psychological scientists Geoff Cole and Arnold Wilkins of the University of Essex suggests that trypophobia may occur as a result of a specific visual feature also found among various poisonous animals. The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

"These findings suggest that there may be an ancient evolutionary part of the brain telling people that they are looking at a poisonous animal," says Cole.

Trypophobia is widely documented by sufferers on the Internet and, in one study, Cole and Wilkins found that about 16% of participants reported trypophobic reactions. Despite this, there has been little scientific investigation of the phenomenon, leading Cole to refer to trypophobia as "the most common phobia you have never heard of."

Cole and Wilkins, both vision scientists, wondered whether there might be a specific visual feature common to trypophobic objects.

They compared 76 images of trypophobic objects (obtained from a trypophobia website) with 76 control images of holes not associated with trypophobia. After standardizing various features of the images, the researchers found that the trypophobic objects had relatively high contrast energy at midrange spatial frequencies in comparison to the control images.

Why might this unique visual feature lead to such aversive reactions? One trypophobia sufferer provided Cole with a clue: He had seen an animal that caused him to experience a trypophobic reaction.

The animal in question, the blue-ringed octopus, is one of the most poisonous animals in the world, which led Cole to a "bit of a Eureka moment."

He and Wilkins analyzed images of various poisonous animals including the blue-ringed octopus, deathstalker scorpion, king cobra snake, and other poisonous snakes and spiders and found that they, too, tended to have relatively high contrast at midrange spatial frequencies.

In light of this, the researchers speculate that trypophobia may have an evolutionary basis clusters of holes may be aversive because they happen to share a visual feature with animals that humans have learned to avoid as a matter of survival.

"We think that everyone has trypophobic tendencies even though they may not be aware of it," says Cole. "We found that people who don't have the phobia still rate trypophobic images as less comfortable to look at than other images."

In studies currently under way, Cole and Wilkins are exploring whether manipulating the spectral characteristics of images of everyday objects, like watches, leads people to prefer one object over another. They believe these experiments will shed light on just how ingrained trypophobic tendencies might be.


'/>"/>

Contact: Anna Mikulak
amikulak@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Amgen Presents Pooled Analysis Showing AMG 145 Significantly Reduced LDL Cholesterol In Over 1,200 Patients
2. Nordic diet lowers cholesterol, study finds
3. 4 genes indentified that influence levels of bad cholesterol
4. U-M researchers find new way to clear cholesterol from the blood
5. Cholesterol rafts deliver drugs inside cancer cells
6. Astronomer gets grant to better measure mysterious black holes
7. Researchers find alternative cholesterol-lowering drug for patients who cant tolerate statins
8. Study identifies liver gene that regulates cholesterol and fat blood levels
9. Study quantifies the size of holes antibacterials create in cell walls to kill bacteria
10. Cholesterol helps regulate key signaling proteins in the cell
11. Host cholesterol secretion likely to influence gut microbiota
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/24/2016)... 2016 Cercacor today introduced Ember TM ... non-invasively measure hemoglobin, Oxygen Content, Oxygen Saturation, ... Rate in approximately 30 seconds. Smaller than a smartphone, ... access to key data about their bodies to help ... Hemoglobin carries oxygen to muscles. When ...
(Date:11/22/2016)...   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based eClinical ... research, is pleased to announce that the company has ... Sciences Awards as "Most Outstanding in eClinical Solutions" ... of recognition and growth for MedNet, which has effectively ... iMedNet ™ , MedNet,s flagship eClinical ...
(Date:11/19/2016)... 18, 2016 Securus Technologies, a leading provider ... safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring, announced today that it ... to have an independent technology judge determine who has ... high tech/sophisticated telephone calling platform, and the best customer ... do most of what we do – which clearly ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... 07, 2016 , ... A new study published in the ... treated, advanced pancreatic cancer, liquid biopsies are not yet an adequate substitute for ... blood sampling may improve the value of a blood-based test.” The study was ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... 2016 Neogen Corporation (NASDAQ: NEOG ... Kephart as its chief science officer — a ... responsibilities at Neogen effective Jan. 1. Kephart ... agribusiness unit of Thermo Fisher Scientific, as well as ... His extensive industry experience also includes the management of ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... , Dec. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - Zenith Capital Corp. ("Zenith" ... that will be presented at the Company,s Annual and Special ... of Shareholders will take place on Thursday, December 15, 2016 ... Glenn Hall (Room EC1040), 4825 Mount Royal Gate SW, ... (MST). A notice of meeting and management information circular, containing ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... Dec. 7, 2016  Biocom, the association for the ... below following passage of 21 st Century Cures legislation ... 30 by a 392-26 vote and in the Senate on ... attributed to Joe Panetta , president & CEO of ... give hope to millions of patients around the world. The ...
Breaking Biology Technology: