Neophobia: Causes and symptoms


The modern world is very dynamic, so today there are many people who not only have certain difficulties in adapting to new conditions, but even experience fear. If the fear of the new and unusual begins to dominate human life, it becomes a phobia, namely neophobia (from the Greek neos – new, phobeo – fear). People suffering from this type of phobia are afraid of everything new in various spheres of human activity (change of residence, work, marriage, etc., i.e. everything that leads to the breaking of existing stereotypes). Thus, neophobia is the fear of change.
Neophobia, like any other phobia, maladapts the person, preventing him/her from developing and fully functioning in society. Today there are many different manifestations of this phobia (the table shows the most common ones).
Type Characteristic Technophobia (techne – skill and phobos – fear) pathological fear of new technologies Gnosiophobia (gnosio – knowledge and phobia – fear) destructive fear of knowledge and new information Futurophobia (futuro – future and phobia – fear) fear of the future Ergasiophobia (ergasia – work, action, activity and phobia – fear) fear of doing and movement Food neophobia fear of the unknown, new foods


When does neophobia appear?

Often, neophobia manifests itself in a person’s professional activity. Such people are afraid to change the usual ways of doing work and are often called conservatives. In this risk group are people who have a fairly long period of work in a particular field or area (studies in this field have shown that the risk of neophobia increases in people after 40-45 years).

The main causes of neophobia

Experts distinguish between external and internal factors of neophobia. External causes include economic, social and political instability in a particular state and in the world in general. The fact is that people who cannot rely on the future are emotionally unstable and, therefore, are more often subject to various negative influences and, as a consequence, to the emergence of neophobia (fear of change).
Among the internal causes of this pathological fear are the following personality traits and characteristics of the person:

  • Rigidity of the nervous system;
  • hypervigilance and suspicion;
  • conservatism;
  • High level of anxiety (both situational and personal);
  • Lack of confidence in their own abilities;
  • fear of stepping out of the comfort zone;
  • low level of need for achievement;
  • low self-esteem;

Too high a level of responsibility (e.g., a person fears reduced performance due to a change in the forms and types of work).

How is neophobia treated?

Various psychotraumatic situations, unfortunate past experiences, psychological trauma in childhood, exposure to the media and psychological contamination are also important factors in the occurrence of neophobia.

Symptoms of neophobia

Neophobia has the same symptoms as other phobias, except that the symptoms manifest themselves in a person facing something new and unfamiliar. The symptoms have an external (physical) and internal (mental) manifestation. These symptoms may manifest as minor anxiety and mild apprehension, or they may develop into a state of panic.


The main symptoms that may indicate that a person suffers from neophobia are

  • Shortness of breath or even a feeling of suffocation;
  • An increased heartbeat (when approaching a situation involving fear of something new);
  • Painful sensations in the chest area (tightness, burning, etc.) and in the stomach;
  • tremors and shaking (of the extremities or the whole body);
  • elevated sweating (may feel hot and cold);
  • nausea, dizziness and even fainting;
  • Loss of self-control, feeling of unreality (fogginess);
  • confusion and stupor (fear may chain the whole body);
  • some parts of the body may become numb.