Some people experience intense aversion and anxiety when they see clusters of roughly circular shapes, such as the bubbles in a cup of coffee or the holes in a sponge.
Now psychologists at the University of Kent have found that the condition -- known as trypophobia -- may be an exaggerated response linked to deep-seated anxiety about parasites and infectious disease.
Previous explanations for the condition include the suggestion that people are evolutionarily predisposed to respond to clusters of round shapes because these shapes are also found on poisonous animals, like some snakes and the blue-ringed octopus.
Now new research, led by Tom Kupfer of the University's School of Psychology, suggests that the condition may instead be related to an evolutionary history of infectious disease and parasitism that leads to an exaggerated sensitivity to round shapes.Update: I mentioned it to my kids, and my daughter said she has a friend who doesn't like sponges because of the holes. How odd.