Why Humans Experience Fear
If you’ve ever wondered Why Humans Experience Fear, you’re not alone. Research into the brain’s fear system is revealing an incredible amount of information. In this article, we’ll explore the three primary psychological processes that determine valence, importance, and action. And we’ll explore the ways in which these processes interact. After all, we all experience fear at some point in our lives. Here’s a quick primer on each.
Some psychological theories suggest that fear is a basic biological emotion that all humans and other animals share. While this is the general consensus of lay people, some proposals argue that fear is a uniquely human emotion that stems from a shared evolutionary history. Others argue that fear is a dimensional emotion that evolved from a common ancestor, or that we evolved it through convergent evolution. But common usage is backed up by a wide range of evidence.
To explore the biological basis of fear, scientists have used the fear conditioning paradigm. In this model, animals undergo similar physiological and behavioral responses to a threatening situation, but these reactions do not necessarily signal fear. The brain also makes sense of sensory input, not merely fear. It also makes sense of the environment, making it possible for humans to perceive fear. However, the paradigm’s use of nonhuman animals has some limitations. It doesn’t allow scientists to directly observe what people feel, and instead relies on verbal reports as ground truth.
It is important to acknowledge that humans are different than other animals in their behavior. Although some aspects of fear may be uniquely human, some are akin to other species. For example, fear can be a result of exposure to a potentially dangerous situation, such as the presence of a predator. Furthermore, it can be a result of genetics. If the genes responsible for these differences are common across species, it’s possible that they are shared between different groups.