why is it that when something grosses us out or makes us feel uneasy, we somehow still look/stare at it?

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why is it that when something grosses us out or makes us feel uneasy, we somehow still look/stare at it?

In: Biology
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People have a few ways to form proper reactions to things. When we’re grossed out or uneasy, it’s often because there’s a foreign or mysterious element to it in some way.

It’s evolutionarily advantageous to be weary of new things, or things that we are not familiar/comfortable with. After all, touching some slimy snail or strange goo in the wild could mean death.

One way people form reactions is by watching how *other* people react. If other people are grossed out or afraid of something, that will imprint on us. The other way, which is more what you are discussing, is to stare at whatever it is at a distance to gather information on it and compare it to things that we *do* know in order to rationalize the best response.

This process isn’t entirely conscious and can take a long time (thus the staring), because when something is that strange, there may not be many obvious things in your memory to compare it to. It also helps you gather information in case you stumble upon something similar to it in the future, so it’s a two-way street.

People are very cognitive creatures who are decent at rationalizing reactions to unusual things and situations. While many animals would run away in fear, smarter creatures like people (and cats and dogs, for a common non-human example) take a more observational approach. Basically using limited knowledge to react to, control, and/or work within changing circumstances. People who are *really* good at this are called “engineers”.