Why do you brace for a fall or slam on brakes?
April 11, 2011 6:58 PM   Subscribe

What is the technical term for the phenomenon of reflexively or instinctively thrusting your foot out to brace for a fall, slam a brake, etc. when fearful of impending injury?

My Google-fu is failing and I cannot find the correct term for this reflexion action, please help? I am trying to do some research on how companies can take this reflex into consideration when designing a product can not even get out of the gate.
posted by 2legit2quit to Science & Nature (7 answers total)
Note: I have heard it called the protective saving reaction, but that has not gotten me anywhere.
posted by 2legit2quit at 7:00 PM on April 11, 2011

Generally, this is called a reflex. Involuntary physical reactions to sudden movement or impending injury are examples of a startle reaction in humans. I'm not sure if there's a more specific term.
posted by Nomyte at 7:17 PM on April 11, 2011

Moro/startle reaction or anticipatory reflex, but I'm no pro.
posted by rhizome at 8:13 PM on April 11, 2011

I have no expertise, but terms like "Protective extension" or "reflexive protective reaction" might be helpful in your search.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Despite the fact that I now weigh as much as she does, my mom still throws her arm out in front of me if she's driving and has to stop quickly. It's adorable.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:14 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure that is the true definition of "kneejerk".
posted by Thorzdad at 7:14 AM on April 12, 2011

I know in nursing school we tested newborns for the startle reflex (aka the Moro reflex). If a baby is startled by a loud noise or a sensation of falling, he/she exhibits a clear series of reflex responses as detailed in that Wikipedia article. It's clearly built-in to our brains.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:08 AM on April 13, 2011

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