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Climate as a moderator of the effect of disease threat on interpersonal behavior

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Infectious diseases have been a major threat to survival throughout human history. Humans have developed a behavioral immune system to prevent infection by causing individuals to avoid people, food, and

Infectious diseases have been a major threat to survival throughout human history. Humans have developed a behavioral immune system to prevent infection by causing individuals to avoid people, food, and objects that could be contaminated. This current project investigates how ambient temperature affects the activation of this system. Because temperature is positively correlated with the prevalence of many deadly diseases, I predict that temperature moderates the behavioral immune system, such that a disease prime will have a stronger effect in a hot environment compared to a neutral environment and one's avoidant behaviors will be more extreme. Participants were placed in a hot room (M = 85F) or a neutral room (M = 77F) and shown a disease prime slide show or a neutral slide show. Disgust sensitivity and perceived vulnerability surveys were used to measure an increased perceived risk to disease. A taste test between a disgusting food item (gummy bugs) and a neutral food item (gummy animals) measured food avoidance. There was no significant avoidance of the gummy and no significant difference in ratings of disgust sensitivity or perceived vulnerability as a function of temperature conditions. There were no significant interactions between temperature and disease. The conclusion is that this study did not provide evidence that temperature moderates the effect of disease cues on behavior.

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  • 2012

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Religious Women’s Modest Dress as a Signal to Other Women

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The present study tested the hypothesis that women dress modestly to signal to other women that they pose no mate poaching threat and are sexually restricted, and that this is

The present study tested the hypothesis that women dress modestly to signal to other women that they pose no mate poaching threat and are sexually restricted, and that this is especially true for religious women. Participants were 392 Muslim women living in the United States. They read two passages describing fictional situations in which they met with a potential female friend and then indicated what kind of outfit they would wear in both situations. In one situation, the participant obtained a reputation for promiscuity; in the other situation, reputation was not mentioned. I predicted that participants would choose more modest outfits for the promiscuous reputation passage, because if women dress modestly to signal sexual restrictedness, then they should dress more modestly around women with whom they have a reputation for promiscuity—to counteract such a reputation, women may wish to send a strong signal that they are not promiscuous. The hypothesis was partially supported: Less religious women chose more modest outfits for the promiscuous reputation situation than they did for the no reputation situation. This suggests that some women dress modestly to signal sexual restrictedness to other women, but that this is especially true for women who are less religious, not more. More religious women dress more modestly than less religious women, but they may not dress modestly to signal sexual restrictedness. Two important goals for this area of research are to determine the proximate reasons that more religious women dress modestly and to investigate modest dress among non-Muslim religious women.

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  • 2020