Do infants possess an evolved spider-detection mechanism?

David H. Rakison, Jaime Derringer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Previous studies with various non-human animals have revealed that they possess an evolved predator recognition mechanism that specifies the appearance of recurring threats. We used the preferential looking and habituation paradigms in three experiments to investigate whether 5-month-old human infants have a perceptual template for spiders that generalizes to real-world images of spiders. A fourth experiment assessed whether 5-month-olds have a perceptual template for a non-threatening biological stimulus (i.e., a flower). The results supported the hypothesis that humans, like other species, may possess a cognitive mechanism for detecting specific animals that were potentially harmful throughout evolutionary history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-393
Number of pages13
JournalCognition
Volume107
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • Adaptations
  • Cognition
  • Evolution
  • Fear
  • Infancy
  • Perception
  • Spiders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Cite this