afraid of spiders

Why are People Afraid of Spiders?

Why is it common for people to be afraid of spiders? Fear for a lot of people, after all they have so many legs, creepy bodies, and run all over the place. We don’t often think if this fear is warranted or not, we just know that we don’t want them anywhere near us or in our house. But science has a few different theories on where our fear of spiders first develops. So let’s examine why are are afraid of spiders.

Nature vs. Nurture

Isn’t this always what it comes down to in psychology; a fight between nature and nurture? The same is true for the fears we develop; especially ones held from a young age such as spiders. Scientists have tried to discover if these fears are something we’re innately born with, something we learn from personal experience, or if these fears are taught to us by our parents.


·       Pre-programed fears

We know that there are certain traits passed through family lines that can’t be fully explained through science. Things such as alcoholism, suicide rates, and other behavioral traits can be passed down from generation to generation, these are referred to as epigenetics. Epigenetics formed as a way to help our species thrive. By learning behavioral traits through genetics rather than having to be taught each individual trait, the survival of the next generation would be greater. Some theorize that this is where our fear of spiders begins; from a genetic instinct to protect our species. Could this be why we are afraid of spiders?

·       Personal Experience

There is also some evidence to suggest the reason we are afraid of spiders is due to a personal experience we’ve had in childhood. Something that we might not even remember, but the fear has been ingrained in us as a permanent feature. Studies have shown that children will rate spiders as their number one fear, even over things such as being kidnapped and the dark. These children with a high fear of spiders often have a specific experience or experiences associated to this fear. Researchers take this to mean that experiences at a young age can have lasting impacts on our fear as we grow.

·       Modeled Fear

Another theory is that fact that people are afraid of spiders is modeled for us by our parents and we learn to fear spiders with or without reason. Over 75% of people who are afraid of spiders report having a family member who was also afraid of spiders. This suggests that there could be a learning process involved in the development of these fears.


Regardless of why we are afraid of spiders there is often little need to be. Most spiders are harmless like a ladybug or any other insect. This may be of little comfort when it comes to finding them in your house however. Spiders being in your home mean that other bugs are also in your home. So, by contacting someone to take care of any pests you may have they will help cut down on both unwanted bugs and spiders in your home.