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Where Do our Fears Come From?

Humans are only born with two fears: the fear of falling, and the fear of loud noises. Even so, many people experience fear when faced with other experiences, such as spiders and speaking in front of people. But if we weren't born with these fears, then how did they come to exist?

Fears from Experiences

As stated above, most of our fears are not things we are born with. This means that at some point in our lives, we learn to be afraid of certain items or situations. There are multiple ways in which these fears can be learned, like having a having a negative experience with something. For example, if you got bit by a spider as a young child, you are likely to develop a fear of spiders, and you may even carry this fear into your teenager or adult life. Similarly, fears can develop by watching a negative experience, like witnessing a friend get bit by an insect.

Fears in Media

The way we develop fears greatly effects the difference of popularity between fears. Most of the media we consume about spiders illustrates them in a negative way. People see spiders as dangerous and having the ability to do great harm. Sometimes, they are even depicted as symbols of evil, like in Roman mythology and in modern day movies and shows.

On the other hand, butterflies in media are portrayed as beautiful, wondrous creatures that could never do harm. Because of the different types of media we are exposed to, it is significantly more common for someone to have a fear of spiders compared to having a fear of butterflies. (Personally, I think butterflies can be very scary!!)

Fears from Parents

In addition to media, parents play an enormous role in the development of fears. Many children learn fears simply by watching their parents reactions to certain things or situations. When a child watches their parent(s) react in a specify way, the child learns to react similar when they encounter the same experience.

In summary, the way people develop fears is by learning them from things we encounter in our lives. There are a multitude of different ways one can learn a fear, including how certain things are portrayed in the media we consume, from your own experiences, or from the reactions of parents. Emotions can be complicated, but understanding why we feel them can help us learn how to better control them.

Thank you for reading!! - Evelyn Z


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