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Ltryptophan's avatar

What is known about the behavioral fear of human beings in animal populations?

Asked by Ltryptophan (9106 points ) September 23rd, 2011

I know that some of the pacific island creatures having never met men do not know to be afraid. I would say that we anthropomorphize the fear the animals possess when in reality they are just afraid of any large predators. That’s one guess. Another is that maybe fire played a major role in the instinctual patterning of fear in animals against men.

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5 Answers

marinelife's avatar

You are right about large predators.

dreamwolf's avatar

@marinelife I second marinelife, Furthermore, I do believe we a rare population of species that actually go up to a creature out of curiosity to see what, how, why, when, and where they do things. Since I believe in God, I think it has to do with a natural sense of humans just are dominant. Now will I take this same belief with me when face to face with a snow leopard? Of course I wouldn’t be foolish enough to go out there with a gun or weapon, because I understand the animal kingdom and how territorial they are. But yes, pigeons in the city are rarely afraid of humans walking around, in other areas, wild pigeons might not know of a threat, where in OTHER areas, they fear humans for survival, There are soooo many variables spinning around your question. But great question anyhow.

Coloma's avatar

It makes sense that something would not always fear an unknown. Yes, I’d say it’s the large predator thing to.

I came face to face with a mountain lion behind my barn one night about 7 years ago and it was quite interesting. I don’t know what it thought, but, it was a tense 30 seconds of eye contact and then it rose up from a crouch I was crouching to lock the barn door at the bottom in my underware no less, lol and it towered over me for about 5 more seconds before silently turning and walking away into the darkness of the brush.

I will never forget the size of it’s eyes glowing green in the beam of my flashlight. I think I blinded it and maybe that is what made it go away.

And yes…I RAN like a schoolgirl back to my deck. haha

I am sure I felt a lot more fear than that cat!

I know they have watched me many times in the 20 years I have been in these hills now.

Seek's avatar

I’m currently reading Dawkins’ “The Greatest Show on Earth”, and in it he mentions that all animals (humans included) have a certain “flight distance”.

Flight Distance is the ratio of fear to need. If, for example, something is approaching your food, you have to decide whether the imminent danger of harm is worth losing the food. If you run away too soon, you starve to death. If you stay put, the predator eats/kills you.

A pigeon living in a city doesn’t fear the people as much as the wild wolf, because the old man in the park feeds him, and no one is ringing his neck when he gets too close. A wolf can clearly take on any one of us, but they will run if we get too close to them or their food. Unless, of course, they’re hungrier than we are scary.

Same goes for any other animal.

atch's avatar

Consciousness as we know it, may turn out to be very different among higher order life forms such as animals. If evolution produces a high degree of variation, than such variation would inevitably exist in the realm of consciousness. Perhaps it is as simple, in some cases, as the animal sensing that it should be afraid through more metaphysical means.

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