Fear of heights

This picture — of a good friend and his infant son — suggests humans fear heights from a very early age. After all, Bill and his one-year-old are on a balcony 14 stories above Michigan Ave. in Chicago. So do infants have an innate fear of heights?

Are we born with a fear of heights? If so, why?

That worried glance is completely understandable, young man.

It turns out they do not, reports New Scientist.

You might think fear of heights would be innate, since falling from high up can result in injury or death. But babies with little experience of crawling are not afraid of heights. “Mothers almost universally report that their babies go through a phase wherein they will go over the edge of a bed or a changing table if a caregiver doesn’t intervene,” says Joseph Campos at the University of California in Berkeley, who supervised the research. Then suddenly, six weeks or so after they learn to crawl, they seemingly become scared.

Bill’s baby crawls a lot. In fact, he probably beginning to walk by now. So his dubious glance down likely signals he’s a bit uncomfortable. To witness real fright consider this news video of a recent episode in which tourists were standing on a Willis Tower sky deck far above Chicago’s downtown when it began to crack.