"Contemporary interpersonal biases are partially derived from psychological mechanisms that evolved to protect people against the threat of contagious disease. This behavioral immune system effectively promotes disease avoidance but also results in an overgeneralized prejudice toward people who are not legitimate carriers of disease. In three studies, we tested whether experiences with two modern forms of disease protection (vaccination and hand washing) attenuate the relationship between concerns about disease and prejudice against out-groups. Study 1 demonstrated that when threatened with disease, vaccinated participants exhibited less prejudice toward immigrants than unvaccinated participants did. In Study 2, we found that framing vaccination messages in terms of immunity eliminated the relationship between chronic germ aversion and prejudice. In Study 3, we directly manipulated participants' protection from disease by having some participants wash their hands and found that this intervention significantly influenced participants' perceptions of out-group members. Our research suggests that public-health interventions can benefit society in areas beyond immediate health-related domains by informing novel, modern remedies for prejudice."
Photo: flickr/Noodles and Beef
Related content: Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Aggression-inhibiting influence of sexual humor. Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Beauty week: Better choose that baby name wisely! Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: The teddy-bear effect: does having a baby face benefit black chief executive officers? WTF is NCBI ROFL? Read our FAQ!