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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Two University of Virginia researchers believe that humans are genetically predisposed to be deathly afraid of snakes. Judy S. DeLoache, a U.Va. professor of developmental psychology, said she has a snake phobia, but wonders why. "The question was, where did that fear come from?"
She believes it's because snakes would have posed a significant threat to our ancestors, so a fear of snakes remains hardwired into human brains today.
DeLoache said an experiment she conducted with graduate student Vanessa LoBue proved that adults and preschool children have an extraordinary ability to quickly pinpoint snakes amid harmless distractions.
They conducted three experiments with 24 adults and 24 3-year-olds. Both groups were shown a large touch-screen computer monitor that displayed nine color photographs....