Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Mind

Are You Afraid of Holes?

Researchers dig deep to find the evolutionary explanation for trypophobia.

By Lillian Fritz-Laylin and Meredith CarpenterJanuary 31, 2014 5:00 PM
Lotus-seed-pod.jpg
A Lotus seed pod | Thinkstock

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Does looking at the image to the left make you uncomfortable? You might be suffering from trypophobia, or the fear of clusters of holes. In the journal Psychological Science, two British researchers took a closer look at the items trypophobics fear the most, from lotus pods to sliced English muffins. What they found: Many of these trypophobia triggers have spectral characteristics — luminosity and contrast features — that resemble those of poisonous animals, such as the deathstalker scorpion and the puffer fish. The researchers posit that trypophobia could be an outgrowth of an instinct to avoid dangerous critters, rather than just roving bands of English muffins.

[This article originally appeared in print as "The Hole Truth About Trypophobia."]

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Register or Log In