Snakes and cats in the flower bed

Fast detection is not specific to pictures of fear-relevant animals

Ottmar V. Lipp*, Allison M. Waters, Nazanin Derakshan, Sandra Logies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

97 Citations (Scopus)


The observation that snakes and spiders are found faster among flowers and mushrooms than vice versa and that this search advantage is independent of set size supports the notion that fear-relevant stimuli are processed preferentially in a dedicated fear module. Experiment 1 replicated the faster identification of snakes and spiders but also found a set size effect in a blocked, but not in a mixed-trial, sequence. Experiment 2 failed to find faster identification of snake and spider deviants relative to other animals among flowers and mushrooms and provided evidence for a search advantage for pictures of animals, irrespective of their fear relevance. These findings suggest that results from the present visual search task cannot support the notion of preferential processing of fear relevance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-250
Number of pages18
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes

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