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Revisiting the fear of snakes in children : the role of aposematic signalling [Scientific Reports]

Keywords : evolution, human behaviour

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

Why humans fear snakes is an old, yet unresolved debate. Its innate origin from evolutionary causes is debated against the powerful influence early experience, culture, media and religion may have on people’s aversion to snakes. Here we show that the aversion to snakes in human beings may have been mistaken for an aversion to aposematic signals that are commonly displayed by snakes. A total of 635 children were asked to rate single item images as “nice” or “mean”. Snakes, pets and smiley emoticon items were not rated as “mean” unless they displayed subtle aposematic signals in the form of triangular (rather than round) shapes.(...)

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