Why the Fear of Spiders is Irrational Jessie Keiser

What is Fear?

Rational fear can be defined as the unpleasant emotional state consisting of psychological and psychophysiological responses to a real external threat or danger.

An irrational fear can be defined as a fear of a specific thing or situation that compels one to avoid it, despite the awareness and reassurance that it is not dangerous.

Do you fear spiders?

Today the most common fear and phobia is arachnophobia, the fear of spiders or arachnids (Rafferty). Phobias are prime examples of how a simple fear, ones that we would assume saves us, begins to hinder us. Fearing spiders could have been said to be good, keeping people away from a possibly poisonous creature; but, allowing us to believe fear is mainly about the smaller end of its spectrum shields us from how easily those fears can become detrimental. Why fear spiders? Like I said, most people would say because some spiders can be venomous. The thing about spiders is that most of them are not venomous to humans. On average only four people die of spider bites a year in the US. It is so unlikely to actually be killed by a spider. So why fear them? The way I see it, if we fear everything that can kill us then we are going to be afraid everything.

Do you fear cows?

Surprisingly, From 2000 to 2001 about 74 fatalities due to cattle (Evans).

Do you fear Coconuts?

On average falling coconuts cause about 150 deaths per year (Mont 5).

Do you fear football?

American High school and college football cause around 12 deaths a year(Average 12 school football players die each year, study says)

So why do more people fear spiders over coconuts, football or cows? The majority of the fears we have do not necessarily aid us in our survival. In this common case of the fear of spiders, something we could have deemed positive has become a major component that holds someone back. If we are comparing our fears by definition we should be more afraid of cows, coconuts, and football than spiders


Average 12 school football players die each year, study says. NY Daily News. 2013 Apr 6 [accessed 2017 Apr 7]. http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/average-12-school-football-players-die-year-study-article-1.1309671

Evans L. Health and Saftey Executive Agriculture Industry Advisory Committee. www.hse.gov.uk. 2001 Jun 15 [accessed 2017 Apr 7]. http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/meetings/iacs/aiac/090615/aiac-paper-150601.pdf

Rafferty JP. 9 of the World's Deadliest Spiders. Encyclopædia Britannica. [accessed 2017 Apr 2]. https://www.britannica.com/list/9-of-the-worlds-deadliest-spiders

Mont DD. Coconuts kill more people than sharks. Place of publication not identified: Authorhouse; 2013.


Created with images by return the sun - "Fear" • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Midwest Region - "Spider web" • ulleo - "cow head cow head" • koseb - "coconut beach sand" • filterssofly - "american football football sports"

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