Presentation Title

Sex differences in detection of and arousal to snakes

Faculty Mentor

Nancy Caine

Start Date

23-11-2019 8:45 AM

End Date

23-11-2019 9:30 AM

Location

36

Session

poster 2

Type of Presentation

Poster

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Snake Detection Theory (Isbell, 2006) proposes that the primate visual system has evolved to quickly detect and react to snakes. Both human and non-human primates respond faster to snake related stimuli and produce larger physiological reactions to snakes than to other stimuli, but these studies have not tested SDT in a naturalistic setting. Jensen and Caine (2019) examined SDT by presenting 160 participants with a video of a virtual hike, on which one of three stimuli was placed at the side of the trail: a realistic model of a snake or rabbit, or a bottle. During the virtual hike, heart rate (HR) and galvanic skin response (GSR) were measured, and participants were asked after the video if they saw any of the three stimuli. Afterwards, participants answered a questionnaire to determine if detection or reaction to snakes is related to fear of snakes. Consistent with SDT, Jensen and Caine (2019) found that participants reported seeing the snake stimuli more often than the rabbit or bottle, and they had greater physiological reactions to the snake than to the other items even if they were not consciously aware of having seen the snake. As a follow up to Jensen and Caine’s study, I analyzed the data to explore if there were any sex differences in snake detection or reactions. Although females reported significantly greater snake fear than males, males were more likely to report seeing a snake than females at levels that approached significance, and there were no gender differences in physiological arousal. We propose that fear of snakes is not a prerequisite for detection, nor are autonomic reactions necessarily tied to self-reported fear in either males or females.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Nov 23rd, 8:45 AM Nov 23rd, 9:30 AM

Sex differences in detection of and arousal to snakes

36

Snake Detection Theory (Isbell, 2006) proposes that the primate visual system has evolved to quickly detect and react to snakes. Both human and non-human primates respond faster to snake related stimuli and produce larger physiological reactions to snakes than to other stimuli, but these studies have not tested SDT in a naturalistic setting. Jensen and Caine (2019) examined SDT by presenting 160 participants with a video of a virtual hike, on which one of three stimuli was placed at the side of the trail: a realistic model of a snake or rabbit, or a bottle. During the virtual hike, heart rate (HR) and galvanic skin response (GSR) were measured, and participants were asked after the video if they saw any of the three stimuli. Afterwards, participants answered a questionnaire to determine if detection or reaction to snakes is related to fear of snakes. Consistent with SDT, Jensen and Caine (2019) found that participants reported seeing the snake stimuli more often than the rabbit or bottle, and they had greater physiological reactions to the snake than to the other items even if they were not consciously aware of having seen the snake. As a follow up to Jensen and Caine’s study, I analyzed the data to explore if there were any sex differences in snake detection or reactions. Although females reported significantly greater snake fear than males, males were more likely to report seeing a snake than females at levels that approached significance, and there were no gender differences in physiological arousal. We propose that fear of snakes is not a prerequisite for detection, nor are autonomic reactions necessarily tied to self-reported fear in either males or females.