fear of failure (for animals?)

Taylor (@taysand) 8 years, 10 months ago

I just got done watching Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.. and while the idea behind this movie is a whole interesting discussion in itself, it made me question something slightly off track.

It’s obvious humans often have a fear of failure, whether it’s failure to achieve a physical task (one that may be be dangerous if failed) or failure to complete a mental task, or even failure to comply to social standards. I’m not talking about an intense phobia of failure, just the general fear of doing something difficult because of the consequences that could come from failing to achieve them, causing you to take the ‘safe route’, in turn putting yourself in the habit of avoiding difficulties in life.

My question is if any animals have this general fear of failing tasks (most if not all cases being dangerous physical tasks)? In a lot of cases I’m sure the animal is used to doing these physical maneuvers from doing them their whole life, but even animals make mistakes sometimes. Do animals think about their capacity to fail like humans do or is it purely a human trait from our pre frontal cortex?

I welcome as much elaboration on the topic as possible! Thanks for taking the time to read.

February 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm
DaDuke (13) (@dukevonschmot) 8 years, 10 months ago ago

I think every animal has the fear and just like humans, you either overcome (or ignore) the fear and do what needs to be done, or you fail. Pretty simple but the best answer often is.

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Taylor (152) (@taysand) 8 years, 10 months ago ago

@dukevonschmot, but is it a matter of fight or flight instinct or are they going through a thought process to weigh the consequences of their success or failure?

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Anonymous (24) (@) 8 years, 10 months ago ago

To fear, you have to be able to think ahead and imagine future events.
And I’m not sure if animals are capable of doing so, because most of them act instinctively. It might be that Apes do fear things, because their DNA is only 1-5% different from ours. But for the rest, I doubt it.

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Taylor (152) (@taysand) 8 years, 10 months ago ago

@flightfacilities, I thought about that. The ability to think in future tense lies in our pre frontal cortex so it makes sense than other animals cannot think in that way. But let’s say.. a mountain goat is jumping around on some steep cliffs. He approaches a ledge, about to jump across what looks like a short distance over a canyon. What lets it decide that it will be able to make it or that it would fall short of the ledge? Know what I mean? Surely it must realize that it’s a possibility that it might not make the jump, which is a future thought? Idk.. I wish I could get inside animal minds haha

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TheSkaFish (962)M (@theskafish) 8 years, 10 months ago ago

@taysand, I love watching squirrels climb in my backyard, leaping what seems like effortlessly from branches to wires and back again, maintaining what appears to be perfect balance and a very rapid pace. The squirrels seem to move with absolute confidence. There’s something to be learned from those little guys.

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Anonymous (2,654) (@) 8 years, 10 months ago ago

@taysand, You make a very interesting point. Animals learn the laws of physics from experience just like we do, but they don’t get them wrong as much as we do, probably because we concentrate on the idea of fear and that could lead to more complex mental obstacles. I might be wrong, but if I’m not, there’s something we could learn from our furry friends. And well, this reminded me of an article I shared a couple of times on HE about the similarities between people with autism and animals.

“Fear Is the Main Emotion
Fear is the main emotion in autism and it is also the main emotion in prey animals such as horses and cattle. Things that scare horses and cattle also scare children with autism.

People with autism have emotions, but they are simpler and more like the emotions of a vigilant prey species animal. Fear is the main emotion in a prey species animal because it motivates the animal to flee from predators.

Fear can cause a horse to flee or fight. For example, many times when a horse kicks or bites, it is due to fear instead of aggression. In a fear-provoking situation where a horse is prevented from flight, he learns to fight.”

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Taylor (152) (@taysand) 8 years, 10 months ago ago

@beyond, so when humans make physics mistakes its more or less because we over think it and split up our focus from just performing the task to performing the task and worrying about worrying? Or, the ” mental obstacles” like you said. That makes a lot more sense.

I like that post about animals and human autism, I’ve never thought of them that way. Very interesting bits of knowledge! So basically we all have fear, but humans have fear PLUS contemplation of fear. Our gift is our curse!

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