“who am I going to eat for dinner?”
Through millions of years of evolution nature has ingrained into us many primitive survival mechanisms which we still retain. When you say, “I was so scared, the hair on the back of my neck stood up.” It did in some way. These reactions are visceral and come to us from our primitive ancestors.
Our most pronounced instinct is to freeze in the face of danger. And we freeze before the conscious thought of danger comes into our minds. Same for the people with us. If we freeze they automatically freeze.
The reason is this: predators sense movement. In order to survive on the plains of Africa against dangerous animals which were bigger, faster and far more powerful than us, we learned to freeze if we sighted a lion or other predator. Through evolution, this has become a finely honed instinct.
This is one of the more fascinating things I learned recently from this book: What Everybody Is Saying by Joe Navarro who is an international expert on body language.
In reading memoirs of German soldiers on the Russian front, I remember that when soldiers went on patrol in no man’s land and the Russians fired a flare to light up the landscape, a soldier’s best chance of survival wasn’t to hit the ground. His best chance of survival was to freeze in place.