Fear distorts space

Snake crawling to the person may be more than he seems. Fear can distort the perception of approaching objects, making the distance to underestimate the threat.

King Cobra

The results of our study suggest that emotion and perception is not completely separable in the mind — says psychologist Stella Lorenzo at Emory University. — Fear can affect the very basis of how we perceive the world around us. These results are important for understanding the clinical phobias. "

Usually a person is well developed as understanding when approaching the object will be selected him closely, and the reaction in the form of evasion object if necessary.

The researchers conducted an experiment to test the effect of fear on the accuracy of these skills. The test evaluated the time to "touch" them the images on a computer screen. Pictures increased in size during the second, simulating the approach of an object. Each subject had to press a button at a time when it seemed the object could "encounter" with him.

The results showed that participants in the experiment were more likely to underestimate the time to approach frightening objects, such as a snake or a spider. If scary objects, such as the approach of a rabbit or a butterfly, an underestimation was not.

"We have shown that the type of an object affects the perception of his approach. If we fear something, we believe that it will get to us faster — said study co-author psychologist Matthew Longo. — The most amazing thing is that we can predict how the subject closer contact time, determining the level of fear of the object. The more a person is afraid, for example, spiders, the more it "moves" while approaching. "

So far, said CNews, can not say exactly what the cause of this underestimation. We may think that the terrible object is moving faster than it really is. Perhaps the fear of increasing the size of the "personal space," which is usually limited to a length of an arm.

It should be noted that several earlier, the same group of scientists found that those whose "personal space" extends too far, or, on the contrary, ends at arm's length, are more likely to experience a fear of enclosed space.

"We found that people suffering from claustrophobia, have an exaggerated sense of personal space surrounding — Stella said Lorenzo. — We do not know whether this is a consequence of the distortion of spatial perception or feedback mechanism. Both possibilities are equally likely. "

It is noteworthy that, to some extent feel claustrophobic all people, but there are a wide range of individual differences.

"Some people who experience fear in a confined space, are not afraid to ride in the elevator or walk down the tunnel — said Lorenzo. — As a result, we began to find out, is there any other factors involved in the disease, "

Neural and behavioral data showed that the space within reach of his hand man estimates other than remote. In the utilitarian and protective purposes it makes sense to be more aware of what is closer to the body, according to Innovanews. It also makes sense to fear things that are too far away, very far in the vertical plane, where there is a fear of falling from a height. In further research participants do not experience claustrophobia and fear of heights, the scientists were asked to evaluate various distances to link a range of individual differences in fear.

The results were quite interesting. Those subjects who had higher levels of claustrophobia, underestimated the horizontal distance, and the one who overestimated the vertical distance over the rest was subject to acrophobia.


Gennady Nikolayev, "Abnormal news»

Category: People, psychology, health

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