“Snakes for the memories” Discussed At The Mount
Newburgh –Thanks to thousands of years of evolution, fear can be a complex emotion, said Yasmine Kalkstein, associate professor of Psychology and Faculty Development Coordinator at Mount Saint Mary College. Kalkstein’s young son, Matan, tagged along to his mother’s Introduction to Psychology course earlier this month – and so did his pet snake, Ronnee. “Evolutionary psychology provokes us to consider how the way we are today may have been advantageous in an ancestral environment,” explained Kalkstein. “So, for example, we fear snakes because snakes were a threat to the survival of our ancestors.” When Kalkstein’s son surprised her class with the snake, about half of the students were afraid of it. But, as the Psychology professor pointed out, “our genetic dispositions don’t determine everything.” As Ronnee was passed around the classroom, a student who was scared volunteered to hold it. Gradually, her hands stopped shaking, and she became desensitized. By the end of class, most other students had followed suit. In 45 minutes, the class had overcome thousands of years of evolutionary programming.