Money for microbes-Pathogen avoidance and out-group helping behaviour

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Humans have evolved various adaptations against pathogens, including the physiological immune system. However, not all of these adaptations are physiological: the cognitive mechanisms whereby we avoid potential sources of pathogensfor example, disgust elicited by uncleanlinesscan be considered as parts of a behavioural immune system (BIS). The mechanisms of BIS extend also to inter-group relations: Pathogen cues have been shown to increase xenophobia/ethnocentrism, as people prefer to keep their societal in-group norms unaltered and clean. Nonetheless, little is known how pathogen cues influence people's willingness to provide humanitarian aid to out-group members. We examined how pathogen cues affected decisions of providing humanitarian aid in either instrumental (sending money) or non-instrumental form (sending personnel to help, or accepting refugees), and whether these effects were moderated by individual differences in BIS sensitivity. Data were collected in two online studies (Ns: 188 and 210). When the hypothetical humanitarian crisis involved a clear risk of infection, participants with high BIS sensitivity preferred to send money rather than personnel or to accept refugees. The results suggest that pathogen cues influence BIS-sensitive individuals' willingness to provide humanitarian aid when there is a risk of contamination to in-group members.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology
Issue numberS1
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • Pathogen cues
  • Inter-group help
  • Behavioural immune system
  • Individual differences
  • 515 Psychology
  • 6162 Cognitive science

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