Why Are People Scared of Spiders?

There are dozens of phobias out there, from a fear of heights to a fear of clowns, but one of the more common ones is a fear of spiders (arachnophobia). Studies have found that more than 30.5% of the entire population of the United States suffers from arachnophobia, with 55% of women in western society struggling with the fear and 18% of men

This fear can manifest in the presence of a spider or even after hearing about someone else’s encounter with a spider. So why are people so scared of spiders? We don’t know for sure, but there are some theories out there. 

Theory One: Trauma

It would stand to reason that a fear of spiders stems from some sort of traumatic experience with spiders at some point in life. With this idea in mind, and in an effort to figure out exactly why people are scared of spiders, researchers took a closer look. 

In a study designed to look closely at this idea of “spider trauma,” researchers ultimately found that, though there might have been some slight connection to a traumatic experience, there was another possible reason people were scared of spiders: it ran in the family. 

Theory Two: Genetics

Is it possible that if a parent or grandparent has arachnophobia, you might have it too? Another set of studies took a closer look at the genetics theory. The tests found that yes, there was enough evidence to suggest that you could have inherited your fear of spiders. 

Theory Three: Disgust

If you’re easily disgusted by things like mucus and vomit, you may be more inclined to fear spiders. This is because there seems to be a significant link between disgust sensitivity levels and arachnophobia. This disgust also applies to other animals that may have links to disease, like rats, mice, cockroaches, etc. So you might have an aversion to spiders simply because you are sensitive to disgusting things.