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Girls have head start on snake and spider fears

Widespread dread of slithery, crawly things may start in infancy

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1:34pm, August 27, 2009

Gut-wrenching fears of snakes and spiders may start early for many women. Before their first birthdays, girls but not boys adeptly learn to link the sight of these creatures to the frightened reactions of others, a new study suggests.

Neither infant girls nor boys link happy faces with snakes and spiders, reports study author David Rakison of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in an upcoming Evolution & Human Behavior. Youngsters of both sexes also don’t tend to associate images of flowers and mushrooms with either fearful or happy faces, he finds.

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