"In order to survive, humans have developed a tendency to guard against animals, people and objects that come near them," said Christopher Hsee, professor at University of Chicago Booth School of Business in US.

"This is true for things that are physically coming closer, but also for events that are approaching in time or increasing in likelihood," Hsee added.

The researchers conducted a battery of eight tests in support of their thesis and found that even non-threatening objects and negative feelings beings evoked in participants as they came closer.

Even seemingly docile entities, such as deer, had a fear factor attached to them since participants could still attach some uncertainty to a wild animal's behaviour.

"Approach avoidance is a general tendency, humans do not seem to adequately distinguish between times they should use it and when they should not," Hsee explained.

"They tend to fear approaching things and looming events even if objectively they need not fear them," he said.
The study appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.


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