What's so special about slithering serpents? children and adults rapidly detect snakes based on their simple features

Vanessa Lobue, Judy S. Deloache

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations

Abstract

Snakes are among the most common targets of fears and phobias around the world. In visual search tasks, both adults and young children have repeatedly been found to visually detect snakes more rapidly than other kinds of stimuli. An important question that remains unstudied is what accounts for humans' rapid response to snakes? Here we suggest that specific features of snakes themselves lead to their rapid detection. The results of five experiments suggest that a snake's shape is the crucial factor in their rapid detection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-143
Number of pages15
JournalVisual Cognition
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Detection
  • Threat

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