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:5/12/2016)... 2016 WearablesResearch.com , a brand of ... results from the Q1 wave of its quarterly wearables ... consumers, receptivity to a program where they would receive ... insurance company. "We were surprised to see ... Michael LaColla , CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily because ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... and LONDON , April ... part of EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of ... today announced a partnership to integrate the Onegini ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ) ... their customers enhanced security to access and transact ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... 2016 BioCatch ™, the ... announced the appointment of Eyal Goldwerger as ... Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at a time of ... deployment of its platform at several of the world,s ... discerns unique cognitive and physiological factors, is a winner ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... June, 23, 2016  The Biodesign Challenge (BDC), a ... ways to harness living systems and biotechnology, announced its ... in New York City . ... students, showcased projects at MoMA,s Celeste Bartos Theater during ... , MoMA,s senior curator of architecture and design, and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... , ... In a new case report published today in STEM CELLS Translational ... lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from an injection of stem cells ... this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. , Lymphedema refers to ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, the ... the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.27% lower to finish ... 0.17%. Stock-Callers.com has initiated coverage on the following equities: Infinity ... NKTR ), Aralez Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ... ). Learn more about these stocks by accessing their free ...
(Date:6/23/2016)...  Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN ) today announced ... life sciences incubator to accelerate the development of new ... at QB3@953 was created to help high-potential life science ... early stage organizations - access to laboratory infrastructure. ... two "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, providing each winner with ...
Breaking Biology Technology: