WJEC AS Psychology PY2 - Bennett-Levy and Marteau (1984)

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Bennett-Levy and Marteau - Aims and Context


  • adaptive traitincreases individual's chances of survival and reproduction; good for fearfulness of dangerous creatures (adaptive trait) to be inherited as enables animals/humans to adapt to environment and be naturally selected
  • EEA - 'environment of evolutionary adaptation' time period when humans lived on African plains; dangers they faced led to evolution of fear response

Importance: evolutionary psychology suggests certain fears are adaptive behaviours that helped distant ancestors to survive; if we are extremely fearful of an animal, we try to get away from it and unlikely to be hurt by it, important to understand why we have fears of certain animals and where it originates

Previous Research:

  • Seligman (1971) proposed concept of biological preparedness - inherited predisposition to fear certain classes of animals eg snakes; 3 observations support this belief: 1) distribution of animal phobias is non-random; 2) fears of animals not matched by traumatic experiences; 3) fears often appear early in life, reaching peak of 4 yrs old

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