Definition: The notion that we have an innate tendency, acquired through natural selection, to respond quickly and automatically to stimuli that posed a survival threat to our ancestors.


Throughout human history, people lived in caves and hunted/raised animals. There were unrecognizable creatures that humans had to face. These were vicious animals that threatened their survival. Humans taught their children to fear these creatures. Over thousands of years, these fears have evolved into our common phobias we possess today: spiders, snakes, heights, etc. rather than electricity or cars, which are more recent and used in everyday life.

Quite simply...

    • We are predisposed to being afraid of things that threatened the survival of our ancestors.
    • The genetically learned phobias from evolution to instinctively comprehend something is dangerous.
    • Genetically learned phobia.
    • Innate learned phobias.
    • Fear of anything our ancestors felt threatened their survival.


    • People are more likely to be afraid of things that threatened our ancestors, such as spiders and snakes, as opposed to things that might threaten us today, such as cars or electrical outlets.
    • We are afraid of natural disasters, such as twisters or hurricanes.
    • We run as soon as we see a fire.
    • Fear of sound of chalk boards because apparently that is the sound that is made when a carnivore chews bones of humans (learned in Mr. Wray's Class)
    • Fear to snakes is expected due to preparedness hypothesis.
    • Fear of ferocious animals such as lions and tigers and bears.

Additional Resources

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