iPhone 5c case holes fear trypophobia

Apple jokes that its new iPhone 5c aren’t just for protection as they’re colourful and fun, too. But the company has ignored the latest scientific research that suggests that actually many people have a morbid fear of the holey pattern and are likely to panic at the mere sight of one.

A new study by scientists at the University of Essex reports that a substantial amount of people suffer from trypophobia – the largely unstudied fear of clusters of small holes.

Trypophobes suffer panic attacks at the sight of soap bubbles, aerated chocolate and other objects with clusters of holes.

Apple’s new £25/$29 iPhone 5c case is riddled with holes at the back, oddly showing off apparently the word “non” through the cluster of holes. It has even already been nominated as one of the “crappest tech products of all time”.

The boffins suggest that trypophobia is an evolutionary survival mechanism that stems from a visual resemblance to poisonous animals.

Trypophobia is "the most common phobia you have never heard of," said study researcher Geoff Cole, a psychologist at the University of Essex, who suffers from the fear himself.

The sight of these small holes can make people sick, itch, shake and even cry, according to the results of the first academic study into the phenomenon.

"It is quite extraordinary that images of something as innocuous as the bubbles in a bar of chocolate can bring about this level of aversion," said Cole’s fellow psychologist Professor Arnold Wilkins.

"We have found that significant numbers of people are affected, and that others, who would not be classed as having a phobia, have a dislike of those same images.

“That supports our theory that it is an evolutionary defence mechanism. For many people trypophobia affects their everyday lives and can be quite debilitating."

In the study, where 300 people were shown an image of the seedhead of a lotus flower 18 per cent of the women and 11 per cent of the men had an aversion to the image, finding it uncomfortable or repulsive.

Aside from Apple’s new iPhone 5c case there are instances from nature that bring on the same disquiet and revulsion, including the blue-ringed octopus, box jellyfish, Brazilian wandering spider, death stalker scorpion, Taipan snake, king cobra, marbled cone snail, poison dart frog, puffer fish and the stone fish.

"We argue that trypophobia arises because the images and objects share a simple visual property with potentially dangerous objects," the researchers say.

Apple can at least take reassurance from the fact that there is no known fear of socks...

Apple iPod socks