“truth, like morality, is a relative affair” Netitzsche
AbstractAim: To investigate the correlation between fear and the perceived negative characteristics of ugliness and hairiness from a list of 30 harmless animals.
The findings of Bennet-Levey and Martleau applied here suggest that there will be a positive correlation between fear and the perceived negative characteristics.The hypothesis to be tested will thus be one tailed.
Method: Questionnaires devised for data collection, with a rating scale from 1-5 for subsequent correctional analysis. 16-20 year olds from the Cornwall area were sampled from using opportunity sampling . 13 males, 16 females. 30 participants in total. The participants were given the questionnaires one at a time in an order randomly determined, after they had finished the questionnaire they were debriefed and thanked.
Results: For fear and ugliness
Spearmans rho used
At 0.005 significance
Critical level = 0.467
Therefore there is significant correlation between ugliness and fear with ½ % chance of the results being due to chance.
For fear and hairiness
Spearmans rho used
Critical level = 0.306
Therefore there is significant correlation between ugliness and fear with 5 % chance of the results being due to chance.
Charles Darwin introduced the, then revolutionary, theory of evolution to his contemporaries in his book ‘The origin of species’ in 1859 . This theory of evolution explains the features of species as having arisen due to natural selection, i.e. the survival of the ‘fittest’ and adaptation through genetic variation i.e. mutation. At first the theory was applied only to physical features but it can also be applied to behavioural features. Desmond Morris (1967) attempted to explain all human behaviour through evolutionary past of humans in his book ‘The Naked Ape’ but his approach was largely anecdotal.
One behavioural feature that has had much attention from psychologists using the evolutionary approach is phobia. A phobia is defined as ‘a type of anxiety disorder in which there is a persistent and unreasonable fear of an object or situation’ (Clamp and Russell). In order for phobias to have an evolutionary aspect they must not be determined by environmental factors or at least not fully determined by environmental factors.
Marks (1969) put the case against environmental factors showing that there is a non-random distribution of phobia amongst the population and that there is no general link between experience of phobia and traumatic experiences. Grey (1971) supported this with his finding that the onset of phobias is not randomly distributed with age but is centred around 4 years of age.
Seligman (1971) based his biological preparedness theory on Marks and Grays findings. His theory stated that every animal ,including man, has a biological preparedness to become frightened of certain objects or situations, that is they are predisposed to easily become frightened of some things.
Hunt (1995) showed that the alternative evolutionary theory that animals have inert fears from birth, was not possible by showing that laboratory reared monkeys are not scared of snakes where as their wild counterparts are, indicating that there must be some environmental factor. He further showed that the lab monkeys could easily become scared of snakes very quickly when shown a video of a wild monkey reacting with fear to a snake. This can explained by the social learning theory as a learned response to a stimulus by observation of a role model and would thus be a criticism of the biological preparedness theory as it says that phobia is lurned not innate.
Nesse and Williams (1996) criticise Hunts study because it lacked a control group. They had two sets of chimps (like Hunts monkeys) and one set was shown a chimp being scared of a flower and the other set a chimp being scared of a snake (like Hunt study). They found that the chips did become scared of the snake but they did not become scared of the flower. Social learning theory alone can not explain the difference between the two groups. Seligmans theory of biological preparedness can explain this difference as the chimps being biologically prepared to learn to become scared of the snake (in this case through social learning) but not biologically prepared to learn to become scared of the flower thus Nesse and Williams study supports the biological preparedness theory .
The question that remains to be answered is what it is about snakes that the chimps were biologically prepared to become scared of. Mineka et al (1980) found that it was snake like movements that the chimps became scared of. Schreinda (1965) found that chimps were scared of creatures with the characteristics of largeness and speed. Frantz and Nevis (1967) found that human babies were scared of things with properties they had not come across before i.e. novel things.
Bennett-Levey and Martleau (1984) did research into the particular characteristics that humans are biologically prepared to become scared of. They tested the correlation between the level of those characteristics that people perceive to be negative in a list of 30 harmless animals with peoples levels of fear for those animals . The particular 4 characteristics that they tested were ugliness, sliminess, speed and propensity to move suddenly. They also correlated these with how near people would be prepared to go to the animal which should have the same distribution as the level of fear if the test was consistent. 113 people attending a local health centre were asked to fill in one of two questionnaires either one with the animals, level of fear and preparedness to go near or one with the animals, ugliness, sliminess, speediness and propensity to move suddenly. They found 0.87 between nearness and fear which shows that their test was consistent and thus valid. In the correlation’s between perceived negative characteristics and fear they found a significant correlation of 0.82 with ugliness and a significant correlation of 0.61 with sliminess, the other perceived negative characteristics were not found to have significant correlation’s with fear
This supports Seligmans (1971) theory of biological preparedness and improves on it by identifying two of the specific characteristics that people are prepared to become scared of.
The current research is intended to support Seligmans theory by extending Bennett-Levey and Marteaus study to generalise it to all harmless animals that is not only small ones a Bennet-Levey and Marteaus study did. It all so will find out if it the theory applies to other perceived negative characteristics plus the current research will sample its participants from people around a Library as aposed to a health club to see if the results can he generalised to different social groups. The current research will not be correlating fear and preparedness to go near as Bennett-Leveys study has shown that they are equivalent. The past research suggests that there will be a positive correlation between fear and perceived negative characteristics so the current research hypothesis will be a positive correlation.
The aim of the current research is to investigate the correlation between fear and the perceived negative characteristics of ugliness and hairiness in a list of 30 randomly chosen harmless animals.
First null hypothesis: There is no significant correlation between fear and the perceived negative characteristic of ugliness in the list of 30 harmless animals.
First alternative hypothesis: There is a significant positive correlation between fear and the perceived negative characteristic of ugliness in the list of 30 harmless animals.
Second null hypothesis: There is no significant correlation between fear and the perceived negative characteristic of hairiness in the list of 30 harmless animals.
Second alternative hypothesis: There is a significant positive correlation between fear and the perceived negative characteristic of hairiness in the list of 30 harmless animals.