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Congratulations! The manuscript has been accepted. Thank you.
[# PeerJ Staff Note - this decision was reviewed and approved by Bob Patton, a PeerJ Section Editor covering this Section #]
The authors have greatly improved their paper and it will now make a valuable contribution to the literature.
Please revise the manuscript as per the suggestions from Reviewer 1.
I am delighted that the authors have collected additional data so that they can separate the categories of urban and rural from the particular locations they used. This has greatly improved the paper, and it is now nearly publishable. I would however, like to suggest one additional analysis. I think there are now several groups, depending on location. It would be important to analyse the data using an analysis of variance that grouped the individuals by the several locations, so that the reader can appreciate that the categories of urban and rural transcend the locations from which they are derived. This will involve small changes to the analyses they have undertaken and the measures of error involved. Is the variance due to category (urban/rural) greater than the variance due to location?
Please do the needed revisions as per the peer reviewers' comments. In particular, please address the sample size issues raised by Reviewer 1.
This is a second review
The authors appear to have misunderstood my objection to their sample size and distribution, which has nothing to do with power analysis, p-hacking or other considerations. In order to make a claim that the differences between samples are due to their being "urban" or "rural" one needs more than one sample of individuals from each category, particularly when the individuals are from single locations. These locations may simply not represent the category assigned to them.
This is a second review
Personally, I do not feel that the paper is ready for publication. The sample size is small and the samples are not necessarily representative. More work needs to be done.
This is a revision to a ms I reviewed previously which I was largely happy with. The authors have made a good job of the revision. I recommend publication as is.
Please perform the relevant revisions to the manuscript with the comments of the peer reviewers.
[# PeerJ Staff Note: It is PeerJ policy that additional references suggested during the peer-review process should only be included if the authors are in agreement that they are relevant and useful #]
Trypophobia is not simply due to the internet because many of the individuals with trypophobia I have talked to experienced trypophobia long before the internet was born. The internet has, however, been responsible for bringing isolated sufferers together.
Needs further work.
The report addresses a sensible question and the results are interesting. The statistical power in the studies is low, however. I would like to see a larger sample of individuals, and more than one sample of locations in order to be sure of the estimates of the prevalence of trypophobia in city versus country dwellers. One needs to be able to estimate the within-category variability.
Provocative visual patterns are prevalent in the modern urban environment, see Wilkins, A.J. Penacchio, O. and Leonards, U. (2018). The built environment and its patterns: a view from the vision sciences. SDAR Journal of Sustainable Design and Applied Research, 6, (1) 41-48. These patterns tend not to occur in nature. They can induce visual distortions, headaches and seizures, a phenomenon known as visual stress. Visual stress is a component of trypophobia, at least in so far as a correlation between visual discomfort and trypophobia has been found, see Imaizumi, S., Furuno, M., Hibino, H., & Koyama, S. (2016). Trypophobia is predicted by disgust sensitivity, empathic traits, and visual discomfort. SpringerPlus, 5(1), 1449. doi: 10.1186/s40064-016-3149-6 So one possible argument the authors might wish to make is that the modern urban environment has increased the levels of visual stress generally, and that trypophobia is one result of this increase.
Not professional English.
In this paper the authors report results from a single study in which sensitivity to trypophobia stimuli was examined in people who live in an urban environment and those living in a less-urban environment. Participants were shown a series of trypophobic images (and controls) and asked to rate each for discomfort. The central results showed that both populations showed trypophobia but the size of this effect was greater in the urbanised population. No such difference occurred for the control images. The authors thus conclude that urbanisation plays a contributing role in trypophobia.
I like the work and do think it will make a nice contribution to the journal. I only have a few points.
1) I don’t think there is a confound in their experiment but the authors constantly suggest that such a confound exists. They state that they are comparing an urbanised population with ethnic minorities (then conclude that urbanisation is important), but this makes it sound like we can’t know whether the effect they observe is due to urbanisation or how prevalent the ethnic group is. In other words, it should be either ethnic minority versus ethnic majority or urban versus non-urban, not ethnic minority versus urban.
2) The authors give a very weak explanation, concerning clothes, as to why older people showed less trypophobia. The reason that older people are less trypophobic is simply that many phobias are known to reduce as age increases (e.g., Fredrikson, et al. 1996). I would definitely drop the clothes theory, which is also too anecdotal.
3) The authors also give a very weak explanation as to why interest and knowledge in trypophobia only occurred in the past few years, including ‘bad luck’, ‘researchers negligence’ and an urbanisation-based account. These are all a bit bizarre and need to be dropped (definitely the ‘negligence’ one; perhaps lost in translation but ‘negligence’ is when someone does something very seriously bad). The truth is that the internet has helped to publicise it; it’s a good meme. Also, when I gave the first presentation on the phenomenon, in 2012, a journalist from the Washington Post was present and wanted to run a story on it. This then helped to publicise the paper we published in Psych Science. Its as simple as that.
4) The English needs tidying up. E.g., Line 42. “This phenomenon is called as trypophobia”
5) Line 74. The authors state that “ there are numerous cross-cultural studies on emotions showing cultural difference in emotional processing”. I think a couple of sentences are needed here stating which emotions are particularly different.
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