Spend time in nature to overcome your fear of snakes or spiders
For the study, researchers from universities in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Portugal used clinically established questionnaires to assess participants’ levels of fear of snakes and snakes. spiders as well as their connection to nature. They found that those who scored high in self-perception of their connection to nature – especially the desire to be close to nature and participate in its protection – were less likely to score well in the test. measurements of snake and spider phobia.
Because of this association, the connection with nature may be a protective factor against snake and spider phobia, two of the most common animal phobias, the researchers say.
“Our data analysis shows a clear picture: the more you like nature and feel a part of it,” said Dr Jakub Polk at Charles University, Czech Republic and co-author of the study. , the less likely you are to develop a phobia of snakes or spiders, an anxiety disorder that can dramatically reduce your quality of life.”
Dr Coelho at the University of Porto, Portugal, a co-author of the study, stressed that the link found in this study could go both ways: “The connection with nature can make people are less afraid of snakes and spiders. However, it is also possible that people who are less afraid of snakes and spiders are therefore more interested in nature and feel more connected to the natural environment.”
The researchers also collected demographic data from the participants and found that older age and living in a less urbanized environment were also associated with reduced fear of snakes and spiders.
The study results add to the growing evidence of the positive effects of spending time in nature and feeling connected to it, such as improved health, elevated mood, and decreased mood. stress.
Dr. Andrs Norbert Zsido, at Pcs University, Hungary, and co-author of the study said: “Connecting with nature can have many positive effects. In our study, we found that it may prevent the development of agoraphobia or may facilitate dealing with such fears if they already exist.It has also been shown that connecting with nature is beneficial. health benefits and can lead to more knowledge and more positive attitudes towards animals, along with greater environmental responsibility.”
Fear of snakes and spiders is thought to stem from threats in our evolutionary history. While these fears can protect us, a phobia – an extreme or irrational fear – can cause significant distress and interfere with a person’s day-to-day life. they try to avoid all confrontations with obsessive stimuli.
For the study, the researchers assessed the participants’ associations with nature using the Nature Relevancy Scale. This questionnaire asked participants to agree or disagree with statements about conservation attitudes, a sense of belonging to nature, and a sense of comfort in being outdoors in the wilderness. Higher scores indicate a stronger connection to nature.
To assess the participants’ level of fear of snakes and spiders, the researchers used an established questionnaire that is used for clinical examination of phobias. Participants answered questions about fainting or dodging in response to snakes and spiders, then were shown pictures of the animals and asked to rate them on three scales: whether they feel the images as unpleasant or pleasant, whether the images make them feel calm or excited. , and whether they feel dominated or dominated by the animals in the picture.
Because the study was correlated and did not collect longitudinal data, the researchers were unable to determine the direction of the relationship between the association with nature and fear of animals. Dr. Zsido explains: “This was a cross-sectional study, so we were unable to measure the possible impact of nature involvement on fear over time. and whether increasing time in nature can reliably reduce fear.
The researchers are now hoping to discover whether their findings are similar to other phobias or apply to other cultures around the world.
Dr Polk said: “I wanted to see if the same association between connection with nature and fear of animals could be found in other countries with different cultures, different degrees of urbanization. and potentially different attitudes towards animals. We think that fear of snakes and spiders is common all over the world, but is the protective role of connection with nature also pervasive? will be worthy of future study.”
Researchers are also interested in understanding what causes agoraphobia to persist. Dr. Coelho added: “I’d like to know why some people never seem to let go of their fear, even when they have a lot of experience with the object that evokes this feeling. Is this the case? due to the nature of the stimuli themselves or maybe to individual differences?”