Author(s): Schaller M, Murray DR, Bangerter A, Schaller M, Murray DR, Bangerter A
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Abstract The 'behavioural immune system' is composed of mechanisms that evolved as a means of facilitating behaviours that minimized infection risk and enhanced fitness. Recent empirical research on human populations suggests that these mechanisms have unique consequences for many aspects of human sociality--including sexual attitudes, gregariousness, xenophobia, conformity to majority opinion and conservative sociopolitical attitudes. Throughout much of human evolutionary history, these consequences may have had beneficial health implications; but health implications in modern human societies remain unclear. This article summarizes pertinent ways in which modern human societies are similar to and different from the ecologies within which the behavioural immune system evolved. By attending to these similarities and differences, we identify a set of plausible implications-both positive and negative-that the behavioural immune system may have on health outcomes in contemporary human contexts. We discuss both individual-level infection risk and population-level epidemiological outcomes. We also discuss a variety of additional implications, including compliance with public health policies, the adoption of novel therapeutic interventions and actual immunological functioning. Research on the behavioural immune system, and its implications in contemporary human societies, can provide unique insights into relationships between fitness, sociality and health. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci
and referenced in Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research