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Neophobia is a phobia, the fear of new things or experiences. It is also called cainotophobia. In psychology, neophobia is defined as the persistent and abnormal fear of anything new. In its milder form, it can manifest as the unwillingness to try new things or break from routine.

The term is also used to describe anger, frustration or trepidation toward new things and toward change in general. Some conservative and reactionary groups are often described as neophobic, in their attempts to preserve traditions or revert society to a perceived past form. Technophobia can be seen as a specialized form of neophobia, by fearing new technology.

In biomedical research, neophobia is often associated with the study of taste. Food neophobia is an important concern in pediatric psychology. Neophobia is also a common finding in aging animals, although apathy could also explain, or contribute to explain, the lack of exploratory drive systematically observed in aging. Researchers argued that the lack of exploratory drive was likely due, neurophysiologically, to the dysfunction of neural pathways connected to the prefrontal cortex observed during aging.[1]

Robert Anton Wilson theorized, in his book Prometheus Rising, that neophobia is instinctual in people after they become parents and begin to raise children. Wilson's views on neophobia are mostly negative, believing that it is the reason human culture and ideas do not advance as quickly as our technology. His model includes an idea from Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which is that new ideas, however well-proven and evident, are implemented only when the generations who consider them 'new' die and are replaced by generations who consider the ideas accepted and old.

Wilson assumes that people do not think most of the time, and believes that the rational mind usually justifies instinctual activity rather than actually drive action.

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References & Bibliography

  1. Lalonde R, Badescu R (1995). Exploratory drive, frontal lobe function and adipsia in aging. Gerontology 41 (3): 134-44.

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