Afraid of Needles? You May Want to Blame Your Genes

You might have your relatives to thank for some specific fears.

RELATED TAGS: PSYCHOLOGY, GENETICS
phobias

The genetic roots of some phobias run particularly deep. For instance, trypophobia — the fear of clusters of circular objects like coffee bubbles or the holes in a sponge — may stem from an ancient aversion to infectious diseases and parasites, according to a 2017 study in Cognition and Emotion. Researchers exposed nearly 700 people to pictures portray-ing clusters of circular shapes; about half of the participants reported having trypophobia, while the rest reported being phobia-free. Some of the photos showed a skin rash or clusters of ticks, whereas others focused on clusters of items unrelated to disease or parasites, such as drilled holes in a brick wall. Both groups of people found the disease- and parasite-related clusters unpleasant. However, only those in the trypophobia group were also averse to the other batch of images.

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