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Study: All humans have innate fear of things moving closer to them

The One Weird Fear All Humans Share

A new study from the University of Chicago finds that all humans have an innate sense built in that makes us fear things that are moving closer towards, rather than moving away.

In evolutionary terms, this makes sense. Early humans were nowhere near as equipped to deal with danger as we are now -- so a wild animal or a person we don't know approaching us could be a sign of potential danger.

Nowadays, we don't have to worry about that as much. But even so, that aspect of our personalities has apparently stuck around. Modern humans continue to experience what we call "approach avoidance," even when the things or people approaching us, are non-threatening.

For this study, researchers conducted eight different tests, using everything from sounds to videos of people walking towards you -- even objectively innocuous things, like letters of the English alphabet getting bigger and bigger. The goal was to see if objects that looked or sounded like they were getting closer would elicit fear within a group of test subjects.

... And they did. All of them.

This doesn't just apply to physical objects. It also extends to events that are approaching in time, or increasing in likelihood.

According to Christopher Hsee, the researcher who authored the study, "Approach avoidance is a general tendency." And for one reason or another, humans can't seem to adequately distinguish between times they should use it and times they should not.

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kimjames64 July 05 2014 at 6:33 AM

And this was the best study they could come up? There's a million other issues and they chose to waste time and resources on this BS? Unbelievable.

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3 replies
abourge458 July 05 2014 at 7:03 AM

I just stopped taking showers and changing my socks. Problem SOLVED!
NOBODY comes near me now.

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1 reply
BOB abourge458 July 05 2014 at 7:27 AM

Another study shows people see things like you in a zoo .

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1 reply
schlauger1 BOB July 05 2014 at 11:38 AM

I'm part of the control group. I'm going to miss my wading pool and tub toys, the sloping cement, and three squares. I actually can't imagine eating anything but lettuce and bananas.

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johngin1999 July 05 2014 at 7:04 AM

Humans also have a an innate fear ( aka phobia) spiders, snakes, large fish, large animals, something unknown, something different, alone in the dark in an unknown place, And about a hundred other things).
There I just saved over a Billion dollars in irrelevant "scientific" studies.

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2 replies
Kate johngin1999 July 05 2014 at 11:15 AM

Correction: fears and phobias are not the same thing. While this may seem like an obvious conclusion to have drawn as a result of the study, things that help researchers and scientists know more about human reactions further help to understand why we do the things we do.

Irrational reactions cause a lot of harm in this world, and for some people can be extremely debilitating.

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1 reply
katydid579 Kate July 05 2014 at 12:53 PM

Kate, using rational thought on these bozos is only going to make you frustrated.

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MaryJMartin johngin1999 July 05 2014 at 12:16 PM

Humans with dark skin????

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TripleXKimberly July 05 2014 at 6:39 AM

The point of this was what exactly? To confirm something that everyone already knew. Please stop being fruitless with money and spend time on more important issues.

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2 replies
jtfee TripleXKimberly July 05 2014 at 3:47 PM

Such as what? Be aware that whatever you answer, some other troll is going to find your choice objectionable.

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1 reply
TripleXKimberly jtfee July 05 2014 at 7:44 PM

I am starting to realize that jtfee but thank you for the Warning! Hope you are having a good Holiday weekend.

Flag +1 rate up
lo colon TripleXKimberly July 05 2014 at 6:42 PM

Excellent reply by jtee. There were 'trolls' in the Middle Ages that thought looking through some tube with glass at both ends was odd or worse.

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1 reply
TripleXKimberly lo colon July 05 2014 at 7:46 PM

lol it was pretty good lo colon.

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James July 05 2014 at 9:19 AM

I'm calling BS on this. Obviously they didn't study Marines because after boot camp I lost any sense of person space. When someone approaches it doesn't bother me one bit. This is a complete and utter waste of money and time.

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5 replies
SPQR July 05 2014 at 10:50 AM

I am more afriad that H. Clinton will be elected

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4 replies
laclone July 05 2014 at 6:05 AM

This isn't anything new.

They've wasted all that time and money to just re-confirm something that Psychologist have known about for over a hundred years.

Why didn't they just read their textbooks?

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3 replies
ectullis July 05 2014 at 7:18 AM

Come on over to my 'hood

Flag Reply +3 rate up
clwgeorgetownlaw July 05 2014 at 3:35 PM

They must have studied Tea Baggers whose fear of blacks & hispanics moving closer to them causes irrational hatred & racism.

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1 reply
JAMES GUI clwgeorgetownlaw July 05 2014 at 6:54 PM

These are the kind of dim-wits our schools are turning out now. Never mind. China will soon be running things here if this kind of irrational thinking continues to pass as intelligence,.

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WOODY July 05 2014 at 7:23 AM


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5 replies
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