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Study: Fear Skews Perception, Makes Scary Objects Appear Closer Than They Really Are

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Julian Sonny

Everyone suffers from some sort of fear, and the fear always seems to get the best of us when we’re in its presence. A new study shows that our perception actually causes us to think the fear is closer than it actually is when near it.

Researchers from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and the University of London have discovered that our emotions and perceptions actually cause us to exaggerate how close we are to things that scare us.

The findings, published in Current Biology, show that emotion and perception are subtly intertwined in the mind.

“We’re showing that what the object is affects how we perceive looming. If we’re afraid of something, we perceive it as making contact sooner,” University of London’s Matthew Longo explained.

“Even more striking is that it is possible to predict how much a participant will underestimate the collision time of an object by assessing the amount of fear they have for that object. 


“The more fearful someone reported feeling of spiders, for example, the more they underestimated time-to-collision for a looming spider. 


“Fear can alter even basic aspects of how we perceive the world around us.”

Jordan Shepherd | Elite.

Julian Sonny

Julian Sonny

Editor

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