The Scientific Reason These Patterns Make Some People Uncomfortable

March 5th 2017

Willie Burnley Jr.

When Japanese artist Gaku began carving intricate designs into fruits and vegetables for his Instagram account, he probably didn’t expect that he’d be sending some people online into nervous tizzies.

But that’s exactly what happened thanks to trypophobia, the term commonly used to describe a fear of hole clusters. Unlike most phobias, though, trypophobia often is more likely to trigger feelings of disgust rather than fear in those impacted by it.

Researchers who have studied that the phenomenon have suggested that it is rooted in evolution and that some people may feel disgust when faced with hole clusters because they share visual cues with dangers found in nature. In an article for Psychological Science, researchers noted that a bunch of poisonous animals tend to have high contrast markings in a hole-like pattern, including the blue-ringed octopus, deathstalker scorpion and king cobra snake.

If true, the results of this evolutionary holdover in 2017 are people on social media feeling uncomfortable, scared of, and angry at fruits and vegetables. We’ve come a long way.