These are the most common phobias and what causes them

Wednesday 06 December 2017 16:00
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Back in 2014 YouGov surveyed 2,088 people in Great Britain on their most common fears.

The results found that heights and snakes dominated the phobia rankings.

But where do the phobias come from?

A phobia is a learned response that cannot be unlearned, usually arising due to an evolutionary response.

So why specifically do we hold the most common phobias?


IFL Science found research that suggested people with a phobia of heights were more likely to overestimate vertical distances.

Humans tend to die if they fall from a very great height, so it makes sense that some of us have an innate fear of heights.


It's thought, since fear of snakes seems to be with us from birth, that the phobia has been learned evolutionarily as a reaction to the sometimes poisonous creatures.

We are, however, a bit irrational in this sense as most snakes are completely harmless.

The same applies to spiders, which also rank highly among the phobias.

Public Speaking:

Fear of public speaking is known as glossophobia.

It was found to be the third most common, with 20 per cent of respondents claiming to have it.

It's thought to be anxiety-induced and can be linked to traumatic experiences or events during childhood or adolescence.

It's also tied to the illusion of transparency - humans tend to overestimate the extent to which they believe people can see how they are feeling or behaving.

We think that the public can easily see our nervousness, and therefore become increasingly anxious about this.

HT IFL Science

More: The fear of small holes isn't really a phobia