为什么人们如此害怕蛇、蜘蛛、虫子和令人毛骨悚然的爬行动物?
Why are people so scared of snakes, spiders, bugs and creepy crawlies?

Why are people so scared of snakes, spiders, bugs and creepy crawlies?

为什么人们如此害怕蛇、蜘蛛、虫子和令人毛骨悚然的爬行动物?

正如恐惧可以通过帮助我们避开潜在的捕食者而赋予我们进化上的优势一样,恐惧也可能使我们厌恶,也就是我们许多人对这些爬行和滑行的生物的反感。

(照片: Pixabay)

从悉尼的主人们记事起,对蛇的恐惧就一直困扰着她。马斯特斯是纽约的一名公共关系主管,每当她靠近任何滑动的物体时,她就会经历一种势不可当的恐慌袭击式的恐惧——呼吸急促、心跳加快。

几年前,当她在华盛顿广场公园散步时,一名男子拔出一把枪,向空中射击。就在这时,她看见另一个人裹着一条巨蟒。“我最担心的不是枪手,”马斯特斯说,“是蟒蛇。”

普丽西拉·德尼兹是佛罗里达州彭布罗克派恩的一名移民和商标律师,她认为自己很自信,除了遇到虫子,尤其是蟑螂时。“如果我没有竖起脖子后面的汗毛,我几乎写不出这个词,”德尼兹说,“我的恐惧如此强烈,当我看到一只蟑螂时,我真的会掉眼泪。”

马斯特斯和丹尼兹远不是唯一这样的人。查普曼大学2018年的一项研究发现,24%的美国人说他们害怕蛇和蜥蜴,22%的人说他们害怕昆虫和蜘蛛。

为什么很多人会对蛇、蜘蛛和“令人毛骨悚然的爬行”一类的东西产生如此强烈的本能反应呢?

这可能是我们的基因造成的。

“从进化的角度来看,一种可能的解释是,蛇、蜘蛛和昆虫可能对我们的祖先构成了致命的威胁,所以那些知道它们的危险并避开它们的人更有可能生存下来。”托莱多大学心理学副教授彼得·梅佐说,“事实上,我们在其他灵长类动物中也看到了类似的生物准备,比如黑猩猩。”

德国莱比锡马克斯·普朗克人类认知和脑科学研究所和瑞典乌普萨拉大学的研究人员进行的一项研究发现,这些恐惧是天生的。给6个月大的婴儿看蛇和蜘蛛的照片时,与同样大小和颜色的花或鱼的照片相比,当婴儿看到蛇和蜘蛛的照片时,他们的瞳孔会放大,做出逃跑或战斗的反应。科学家们怀疑,这种反应可能是“一种进化的机制,使人类对来自祖先的威胁产生特定的恐惧。”

正如恐惧可以通过帮助我们避开潜在的捕食者而赋予我们进化上的优势一样,恐惧也可能使我们厌恶,也就是我们许多人对这些爬行和滑行的生物的反感。

佐治亚理工学院的科学家们在2018年与害虫防治公司奥尔金(Orkin)合作进行的一项研究发现,家中的害虫会引发“强烈厌恶”的神经反应。

“家中的昆虫比野外的昆虫更能让大脑产生厌恶感,尤其是蟑螂。”佐治亚理工学院高级脑成像中心主任埃里克·舒马赫博士说,“我们的研究表明,我们可能习惯于对付家里的害虫,因为它们可能与污染或疾病有关。目前还不清楚为什么蟑螂会特别引起人们的极度厌恶,尽管有很多社会和文化因素在驱动这些情绪——熟悉感、文化规范等等。”

“厌恶感的进化可能是为了让我们远离病原体。”华盛顿州惠特曼学院的心理学助理教授汤姆·阿姆斯特朗说,“令人毛骨悚然的昆虫可能具有驱蚊作用,因为它们往往生活在黑暗、潮湿、细菌大量滋生的地方。一些可能是人类寄生虫,而另一些可能传播疾病。虽然食物中的蠕虫或蛆虫本身可能并不有害,但它们可能表明食物已经被病原体破坏了。”

临床心理学家和恐怖电影编剧约翰·梅尔指出,我们如此厌恶这些生物的另一个原因是,它们似乎违背了自然规律。“他们似乎能永远活着,”梅尔说,“它们很难被摧毁。轻轻地把一只蜘蛛冲进排水管,几分钟后它就会爬出下水道。压扁一些虫子,它们不停地扭动。此外,它们似乎还会数百万倍地增加。然后,所有这些,他们看起来异常怪异的头,细长的腿,翅膀,奇怪的颜色组合。它们并不是那种让人想抱抱的、可爱的情感,而是危险的生物。还有,见鬼,有时候还咬人。”

在日本长大并作为一名研究昆虫进化和发展的研究员移居美国的Yoshinori Tomoyasu说,“美国和日本之间的许多事情惊人地相似,但有一个例外,昆虫在美国并不那么‘受欢迎’。这对我来说是一个大惊喜,尤其是作为一名昆虫科学家。在日本,无论是身体上还是精神上,昆虫都离我们很近。”

Tomoyasu说,养昆虫作为宠物,尤其是犀牛和雄鹿甲虫,在日本很受孩子们的欢迎。他举例说,犀牛甲虫是力量的象征,能捉到大甲虫的孩子是那里的“酷”孩子。

“昆虫是日本文化的一部分,这一点从日本许多与昆虫相关的短语和谚语中可以明显看出。例如,当你有预感时,你可以说,‘我有一个虫子传递的消息,’”Tomoyasu说。“心情不好的时候,你可以说,‘我身体里有个虫子待错了地方。’"

在过去的10年里,他观察到越来越多的与昆虫相关的产品被卖给美国儿童,比如捕虫网和笼子,还有关于昆虫的书籍和电视节目,这可能有助于新一代面对昆虫时减少恐惧和厌恶。

“昆虫真的很神奇,”位于俄亥俄州牛津市的迈阿密大学的生物学教授Tomoyasu说。“除了病毒、细菌和真菌等微生物,它们是这个星球上的主导生物,占已知动物物种的近四分之三,而我们哺乳动物是少数。”

“考虑到我们所面临的剧烈的气候变化和人口的显著增长,我们很快就会遇到确保我们的食物安全的严重问题。”Tomoyasu说,“有些昆虫品种是可食用的,营养丰富,而且很容易在小空间内培养。在世界各地,昆虫已经被用作食物。”

例如,他指出,在日本的一些地区,黄蜂幼虫是一种重要的食物来源,现在被认为是一种地区美食。

“一些研究人员正致力于通过基因改造提高它们的营养和可食用性。”他说,“这些昆虫可能成为我们未来的食物。”

朱迪·曼德尔《纽约时报》

Just as fear may impart an evolutionary advantage by helping us to avoid potential predators, so may disgust, the aversion many of us feel to these crawling and slithering creatures.

(Photo: Pixabay)

The fear of snakes has plagued Sydney Masters as long as she can remember. Masters, a New York public relations executive, experiences an overwhelming panic-attack type of fear shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat whenever she's near anything that slithers.

Several years ago, while she was walking in Washington Square Park, a man pulled out a gun, shooting in the air. At that same moment, she spotted another man carrying a boa constrictor wrapped around his body. "My big worry was not the gunman," Masters said. "It was the boa."

Priscilla Deniz, an immigration and trademarks lawyer based in Pembroke Pines, Florida, considers herself to be self-assured and confident, except when it comes to bugs, specifically cockroaches. "I can barely write the word without the hairs on the back of my neck standing up," Deniz said. "My fear is so strong that I cry real tears when I see a cockroach."

Masters and Deniz are far from alone. A 2018 Chapman University study found that 24 percent of Americans say they are afraid of snakes and lizards, and 22 percent say they are afraid of insects and spiders.

Why do so many of us respond so viscerally to snakes, spiders and things in the "creepy crawly" category?

It might be in our genes.

Peter Mezo, associate professor of psychology at the University of Toledo, said that "a potential explanation from an evolutionary perspective is that snakes, spiders and insects may have posed deadly risks to our predecessors, so those who learned of their danger and avoided them were more likely to survive. "In fact, we see similar biological preparedness among other primates, such as chimpanzees."

One study by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, and Uppsala University in Sweden found that these fears are innate. When babies as young as 6 months were shown pictures of snakes and spiders, the babies' pupils dilated a flight-or-fight response when they saw photos of snakes and spiders, as compared to pictures of flowers or fish of the same size and colour. The scientists suspect that this response may be "an evolved mechanism that prepares humans to acquire specific fears of ancestral threats."

Just as fear may impart an evolutionary advantage by helping us to avoid potential predators, so may disgust, the aversion many of us feel to these crawling and slithering creatures.

A 2018 study from scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology in partnership with the pest control company Orkin found that pests seen in a home elicit a neurological reaction of "strong disgust."

"Insects in the home produced more disgust in the brain than insects in the wild, especially cockroaches," said Dr. Eric Schumacher, director of Georgia Tech's Centre for Advanced Brain Imaging. "Our research suggests that we may be conditioned against pests in the home because they may be associated with contamination or illness. It's not clear why cockroaches in particular elicit extreme disgust, although there can be many social and cultural factors that come into play that drive these emotions familiarity, cultural norms, and so on."

"Disgust likely evolved to keep us away from sources of pathogens," said Tom Armstrong, assistant professor of psychology at Whitman College in Washington State. "Creepy crawly insects could be repellent because they tend to live in dark, damp places where bacteria thrive. Some may be human parasites, whereas others could transmit disease. While worms or maggots in food may not be harmful in themselves, they could indicate that food has been compromised by pathogens."

John Mayer, a clinical psychologist and horror film screenwriter, suggests another reason so many of us feel disgust toward these creatures is that they seem to defy the natural order. "They seem to live forever," said Mayer. "They are hard to destroy. Lightly flush a spider down a drain, and in minutes it is crawling back out of the drain. Squash some bugs, and they keep wiggling. Add on that they seem to multiply by the millions. Then, to all this, they look abnormal weird heads, spindly legs, wings, strange colour combinations. These are not living creatures that convey cuddly, cute affection rather, danger. And, hell, some bite."

Yoshinori Tomoyasu, who grew up in Japan and moved to the United States as a researcher studying insect evolution and development, said "many things are surprisingly similar between the U.S. and Japan, but with one exception insects are not so 'popular' in the U.S. This was a big surprise for me, especially as an insect scientist. In Japan, insects are very close to us, both physically and mentally."

Tomoyasu said that keeping insects as pets, especially rhinoceros and stag beetles, is very popular for kids in Japan. Rhino beetles, for example, are a symbol of strength, and kids who can catch big beetles are the "cool" kids there, he said.

"Insects are embedded into Japanese culture, which is evident from many insect-related phrases and proverbs we have in Japan. For example, when you have a hunch, you can say, 'I had news delivered by a bug,'" Tomoyasu said. "When you are in a bad mood, you can say, 'My bug is in a wrong place in my body.'"

In the past 10 years, he has observed more insect-related products being marketed to American children, such as bug nets and cages, as well as books and TV shows about bugs, which may help a new generation to face them with less fear and disgust.

"Insects are truly amazing," said Tomoyasu, a biology professor at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio. "They are the dominant group of organisms on this planet except for microscopic creatures such as viruses, bacteria and fungi accounting for nearly three-quarters of described animal species, while we mammals are minorities."

"Considering the drastic climate change and the significant human population growth that we are facing, we will soon encounter the serious problem of securing our food," Tomoyasu said. "Some insect species are edible, nutritious and easy to culture within a small space. Insects have already been used as food in various regions around the world."

He noted, for example, that wasp larvae have been an important food source in some regions of Japan and are now considered a regional delicacy.

"Some researchers are working on enhancing their nutrition and edibility through genetic modification," he said. "Those insects could be the future of our food."

By Judy Mandell The New York Times

Just as fear may impart an evolutionary advantage by helping us to avoid potential predators, so may disgust, the aversion many of us feel to these crawling and slithering creatures.

正如恐惧可以通过帮助我们避开潜在的捕食者而赋予我们进化上的优势一样,恐惧也可能使我们厌恶,也就是我们许多人对这些爬行和滑行的生物的反感。

(Photo: Pixabay)

(照片: Pixabay)

The fear of snakes has plagued Sydney Masters as long as she can remember. Masters, a New York public relations executive, experiences an overwhelming panic-attack type of fear shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat whenever she's near anything that slithers.

从悉尼的主人们记事起,对蛇的恐惧就一直困扰着她。马斯特斯是纽约的一名公共关系主管,每当她靠近任何滑动的物体时,她就会经历一种势不可当的恐慌袭击式的恐惧——呼吸急促、心跳加快。

Several years ago, while she was walking in Washington Square Park, a man pulled out a gun, shooting in the air. At that same moment, she spotted another man carrying a boa constrictor wrapped around his body. "My big worry was not the gunman," Masters said. "It was the boa."

几年前,当她在华盛顿广场公园散步时,一名男子拔出一把枪,向空中射击。就在这时,她看见另一个人裹着一条巨蟒。“我最担心的不是枪手,”马斯特斯说,“是蟒蛇。”

Priscilla Deniz, an immigration and trademarks lawyer based in Pembroke Pines, Florida, considers herself to be self-assured and confident, except when it comes to bugs, specifically cockroaches. "I can barely write the word without the hairs on the back of my neck standing up," Deniz said. "My fear is so strong that I cry real tears when I see a cockroach."

普丽西拉·德尼兹是佛罗里达州彭布罗克派恩的一名移民和商标律师,她认为自己很自信,除了遇到虫子,尤其是蟑螂时。“如果我没有竖起脖子后面的汗毛,我几乎写不出这个词,”德尼兹说,“我的恐惧如此强烈,当我看到一只蟑螂时,我真的会掉眼泪。”

Masters and Deniz are far from alone. A 2018 Chapman University study found that 24 percent of Americans say they are afraid of snakes and lizards, and 22 percent say they are afraid of insects and spiders.

马斯特斯和丹尼兹远不是唯一这样的人。查普曼大学2018年的一项研究发现,24%的美国人说他们害怕蛇和蜥蜴,22%的人说他们害怕昆虫和蜘蛛。

Why do so many of us respond so viscerally to snakes, spiders and things in the "creepy crawly" category?

为什么很多人会对蛇、蜘蛛和“令人毛骨悚然的爬行”一类的东西产生如此强烈的本能反应呢?

It might be in our genes.

这可能是我们的基因造成的。

Peter Mezo, associate professor of psychology at the University of Toledo, said that "a potential explanation from an evolutionary perspective is that snakes, spiders and insects may have posed deadly risks to our predecessors, so those who learned of their danger and avoided them were more likely to survive. "In fact, we see similar biological preparedness among other primates, such as chimpanzees."

“从进化的角度来看,一种可能的解释是,蛇、蜘蛛和昆虫可能对我们的祖先构成了致命的威胁,所以那些知道它们的危险并避开它们的人更有可能生存下来。”托莱多大学心理学副教授彼得·梅佐说,“事实上,我们在其他灵长类动物中也看到了类似的生物准备,比如黑猩猩。”

One study by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, and Uppsala University in Sweden found that these fears are innate. When babies as young as 6 months were shown pictures of snakes and spiders, the babies' pupils dilated a flight-or-fight response when they saw photos of snakes and spiders, as compared to pictures of flowers or fish of the same size and colour. The scientists suspect that this response may be "an evolved mechanism that prepares humans to acquire specific fears of ancestral threats."

德国莱比锡马克斯·普朗克人类认知和脑科学研究所和瑞典乌普萨拉大学的研究人员进行的一项研究发现,这些恐惧是天生的。给6个月大的婴儿看蛇和蜘蛛的照片时,与同样大小和颜色的花或鱼的照片相比,当婴儿看到蛇和蜘蛛的照片时,他们的瞳孔会放大,做出逃跑或战斗的反应。科学家们怀疑,这种反应可能是“一种进化的机制,使人类对来自祖先的威胁产生特定的恐惧。”

Just as fear may impart an evolutionary advantage by helping us to avoid potential predators, so may disgust, the aversion many of us feel to these crawling and slithering creatures.

正如恐惧可以通过帮助我们避开潜在的捕食者而赋予我们进化上的优势一样,恐惧也可能使我们厌恶,也就是我们许多人对这些爬行和滑行的生物的反感。

A 2018 study from scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology in partnership with the pest control company Orkin found that pests seen in a home elicit a neurological reaction of "strong disgust."

佐治亚理工学院的科学家们在2018年与害虫防治公司奥尔金(Orkin)合作进行的一项研究发现,家中的害虫会引发“强烈厌恶”的神经反应。

"Insects in the home produced more disgust in the brain than insects in the wild, especially cockroaches," said Dr. Eric Schumacher, director of Georgia Tech's Centre for Advanced Brain Imaging. "Our research suggests that we may be conditioned against pests in the home because they may be associated with contamination or illness. It's not clear why cockroaches in particular elicit extreme disgust, although there can be many social and cultural factors that come into play that drive these emotions familiarity, cultural norms, and so on."

“家中的昆虫比野外的昆虫更能让大脑产生厌恶感,尤其是蟑螂。”佐治亚理工学院高级脑成像中心主任埃里克·舒马赫博士说,“我们的研究表明,我们可能习惯于对付家里的害虫,因为它们可能与污染或疾病有关。目前还不清楚为什么蟑螂会特别引起人们的极度厌恶,尽管有很多社会和文化因素在驱动这些情绪——熟悉感、文化规范等等。”

"Disgust likely evolved to keep us away from sources of pathogens," said Tom Armstrong, assistant professor of psychology at Whitman College in Washington State. "Creepy crawly insects could be repellent because they tend to live in dark, damp places where bacteria thrive. Some may be human parasites, whereas others could transmit disease. While worms or maggots in food may not be harmful in themselves, they could indicate that food has been compromised by pathogens."

“厌恶感的进化可能是为了让我们远离病原体。”华盛顿州惠特曼学院的心理学助理教授汤姆·阿姆斯特朗说,“令人毛骨悚然的昆虫可能具有驱蚊作用,因为它们往往生活在黑暗、潮湿、细菌大量滋生的地方。一些可能是人类寄生虫,而另一些可能传播疾病。虽然食物中的蠕虫或蛆虫本身可能并不有害,但它们可能表明食物已经被病原体破坏了。”

John Mayer, a clinical psychologist and horror film screenwriter, suggests another reason so many of us feel disgust toward these creatures is that they seem to defy the natural order. "They seem to live forever," said Mayer. "They are hard to destroy. Lightly flush a spider down a drain, and in minutes it is crawling back out of the drain. Squash some bugs, and they keep wiggling. Add on that they seem to multiply by the millions. Then, to all this, they look abnormal weird heads, spindly legs, wings, strange colour combinations. These are not living creatures that convey cuddly, cute affection rather, danger. And, hell, some bite."

临床心理学家和恐怖电影编剧约翰·梅尔指出,我们如此厌恶这些生物的另一个原因是,它们似乎违背了自然规律。“他们似乎能永远活着,”梅尔说,“它们很难被摧毁。轻轻地把一只蜘蛛冲进排水管,几分钟后它就会爬出下水道。压扁一些虫子,它们不停地扭动。此外,它们似乎还会数百万倍地增加。然后,所有这些,他们看起来异常怪异的头,细长的腿,翅膀,奇怪的颜色组合。它们并不是那种让人想抱抱的、可爱的情感,而是危险的生物。还有,见鬼,有时候还咬人。”

Yoshinori Tomoyasu, who grew up in Japan and moved to the United States as a researcher studying insect evolution and development, said "many things are surprisingly similar between the U.S. and Japan, but with one exception insects are not so 'popular' in the U.S. This was a big surprise for me, especially as an insect scientist. In Japan, insects are very close to us, both physically and mentally."

在日本长大并作为一名研究昆虫进化和发展的研究员移居美国的Yoshinori Tomoyasu说,“美国和日本之间的许多事情惊人地相似,但有一个例外,昆虫在美国并不那么‘受欢迎’。这对我来说是一个大惊喜,尤其是作为一名昆虫科学家。在日本,无论是身体上还是精神上,昆虫都离我们很近。”

Tomoyasu said that keeping insects as pets, especially rhinoceros and stag beetles, is very popular for kids in Japan. Rhino beetles, for example, are a symbol of strength, and kids who can catch big beetles are the "cool" kids there, he said.

Tomoyasu说,养昆虫作为宠物,尤其是犀牛和雄鹿甲虫,在日本很受孩子们的欢迎。他举例说,犀牛甲虫是力量的象征,能捉到大甲虫的孩子是那里的“酷”孩子。

"Insects are embedded into Japanese culture, which is evident from many insect-related phrases and proverbs we have in Japan. For example, when you have a hunch, you can say, 'I had news delivered by a bug,'" Tomoyasu said. "When you are in a bad mood, you can say, 'My bug is in a wrong place in my body.'"

“昆虫是日本文化的一部分,这一点从日本许多与昆虫相关的短语和谚语中可以明显看出。例如,当你有预感时,你可以说,‘我有一个虫子传递的消息,’”Tomoyasu说。“心情不好的时候,你可以说,‘我身体里有个虫子待错了地方。’"

In the past 10 years, he has observed more insect-related products being marketed to American children, such as bug nets and cages, as well as books and TV shows about bugs, which may help a new generation to face them with less fear and disgust.

在过去的10年里,他观察到越来越多的与昆虫相关的产品被卖给美国儿童,比如捕虫网和笼子,还有关于昆虫的书籍和电视节目,这可能有助于新一代面对昆虫时减少恐惧和厌恶。

"Insects are truly amazing," said Tomoyasu, a biology professor at Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio. "They are the dominant group of organisms on this planet except for microscopic creatures such as viruses, bacteria and fungi accounting for nearly three-quarters of described animal species, while we mammals are minorities."

“昆虫真的很神奇,”位于俄亥俄州牛津市的迈阿密大学的生物学教授Tomoyasu说。“除了病毒、细菌和真菌等微生物,它们是这个星球上的主导生物,占已知动物物种的近四分之三,而我们哺乳动物是少数。”

"Considering the drastic climate change and the significant human population growth that we are facing, we will soon encounter the serious problem of securing our food," Tomoyasu said. "Some insect species are edible, nutritious and easy to culture within a small space. Insects have already been used as food in various regions around the world."

“考虑到我们所面临的剧烈的气候变化和人口的显著增长,我们很快就会遇到确保我们的食物安全的严重问题。”Tomoyasu说,“有些昆虫品种是可食用的,营养丰富,而且很容易在小空间内培养。在世界各地,昆虫已经被用作食物。”

He noted, for example, that wasp larvae have been an important food source in some regions of Japan and are now considered a regional delicacy.

例如,他指出,在日本的一些地区,黄蜂幼虫是一种重要的食物来源,现在被认为是一种地区美食。

"Some researchers are working on enhancing their nutrition and edibility through genetic modification," he said. "Those insects could be the future of our food."

“一些研究人员正致力于通过基因改造提高它们的营养和可食用性。”他说,“这些昆虫可能成为我们未来的食物。”

By Judy Mandell The New York Times

朱迪·曼德尔《纽约时报》