The possibility of life existing beyond Earth captivates many. But how would humans react to the discovery of extraterrestrial life? Panic? Chaos? Reverence?
More positively than some might expect, according to an Arizona State University study. How humans might react has been the topic of a great deal of speculation in fiction, policy circles and academia, said Michael Varnum, assistant professor of psychology at ASU.
Varnum has been interested in answering the question for years. Before the study, there was not enough information that could lead to reasonable predictions of humans' reactions, he said:
"But until now, it was all speculation essentially. This set of studies for the first time tackles the question empirically and the resounding conclusion is that we will take the news rather well."
Varnum is a lifelong science-fiction fan and a member of the university's Interplanetary Initiative, a pan-university effort aiming to "pave the way for the future of humans in space," according to the center.