Parasite stress and pathogen avoidance relate to distinct dimensions of political ideology across 30 nations

Joshua M. Tybur, Yoel Inbar, Lene Aarøe, Pat Barclay, Fiona Kate Barlowe, Micheal De Barra, D. Vaughn Becker, Leah Borovoi, Incheol Choi, Jong An Choik, Nathan S. Consedine, Alan Conway, Jane Rebecca Conway, Paul Conway, Vera Cubela Adoric, Ekin Demirci, Ana Maria Fernandez, Diogo Conque Seco Ferreira, Keiko Ishii, Ivana JakšićTingting Ji, Florian van Leeuwen, David M. G. Lewis, Norman P. Li, Jason C. McIntyre, Sumitava Mukherjeez, Justin H. Park, Boguslaw Pawlowski, Michael Bang Petersen, David Pizarro, Gerasimos Prodromitis, Pavol Prokop, Markus J. Rantala, Lisa M. Reynolds, Bonifacio Sandin, Baris Sevi, Delphine de Smet, Narayanan Srinivasan, Shruti Tewari, Cameron Wilson, Jose C. Yong, Iris Žeželj

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Abstract

People who are more avoidant of pathogens are more politically conservative, as are nations with greater parasite stress. In the current research, we test two prominent hypotheses that have been proposed as explanations these relationships between pathogens and politics. The first, which is an intragroup account, holds that the relationships are based on motivations to adhere to local norms, which are sometimes shaped by cultural evolution to have pathogen-neutralizing properties. The second, which is an intergroup account, holds that these same relationships are based on motivations to avoid contact with outgroups (who might pose greater infectious disease threats than ingroup members). Results from a study surveying 11,501 participants across 30 nations are more consistent with the intragroup account than with the intergroup account. National parasite stress relates to traditionalism (an aspect of conservatism especially related to adherence to group norms) but not to social dominance orientation (an aspect of conservatism especially related to endorsements of intergroup barriers and negativity toward ethnic and racial outgroups). Further, individual differences in pathogen-avoidance motives (i.e., disgust sensitivity) relate more strongly to traditionalism than to social dominance orientation within the 30 nations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12408–12413
Number of pages6
JournalPNAS
Volume113
Issue number44
Early online dateOct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016

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Keywords

  • political ideology
  • pathogens
  • disgust
  • culture
  • evolutionary psychology

Cite this

Tybur, J. M., Inbar, Y., Aarøe, L., Barclay, P., Barlowe, F. K., De Barra, M., Becker, D. V., Borovoi, L., Choi, I., Choik, J. A., Consedine, N. S., Conway, A., Conway, J. R., Conway, P., Cubela Adoric, V., Demirci, E., Fernandez, A. M., Ferreira, D. C. S., Ishii, K., ... Žeželj, I. (2016). Parasite stress and pathogen avoidance relate to distinct dimensions of political ideology across 30 nations. PNAS, 113(44), 12408–12413. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1607398113