They’re not scared of you, study shows

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February 2, 2013 by Doug Coutts

Fried spiders for sale at the market in Skuon,...

It’s been a handy catch-all phrase for those attempting to calm arachnophobics for decades: “Look, it’s more scared of you than you are of it.”

Even though most sufferers of arachnophobia – or, as they prefer to call it, common-sense – wouldn’t have thought that possible anyway, there is now evidence to show that spiders have no fear of human-beings and in fact may go out of their way to antagonise them.

In a series of confidential interviews conducted at the Massey University Department of Invertebrates and Business Studies, researchers asked a wide range of spiders how frightened they were of people, with 1 being “OMG it’s like I’m terrified” and 10 “boo!”

The results are scary – the lowest score was 6, and that was from an elderly grey house spider with a gammy leg. Most respondents gave a mark of between 7 and 8.5, with wolf-spiders predominating in that category. Flax jumpers came in at 9 and tunnel-webs 9.5. The only white-tail interviewed gave an 11, due to all the unwarranted bad press about being the cause of necrotising fasciitis.

Faculty spokesperson Chelle Tertwerkshap told WWNews on the condition it would go nowhere that this is the first in a series of testing commonly held beliefs. “We’ll be looking at the occurrence of drizzle versus downpours next,” she said. “And we’ll be following that by a lengthy study of closing doors.” A paper based on the results will be available for 2ndyear Massey students in the fourth trimester of 2015.


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