Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Natalie J. Shook
Steven G. Kinsey
Steven G. Kinsey
In the past decade, there has been an exponential increase in the study of the Behavioral Immune System (BIS), a suite of psychological processes that serves an infectious disease avoidance function. The BIS is proposed to be inherently intertwined with the physiological immune system. However, very few studies have actually demonstrated this fundamental, theoretical assumption. The purpose of this thesis was to test the possible relation between the physiological and behavioral immune systems in two studies. In Study 1 (N = 388), the relation between implied activation of the physiological immune system and BIS sensitivity was examined. Participants who reported more recent illness or having experienced more non-infectious illness in their past perceived themselves as more vulnerable to disease but did not report greater levels of disgust sensitivity. In Study 2, the effect of BIS activation on physiological immune response was tested. Participants (N = 45) were randomly assigned to either a disease threat or a non-disease threat condition. Before and after exposure to the respective priming materials, participants provided saliva samples that were assayed for proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6). Condition did not significantly affect IL-6 levels. However, these results should be interpreted with caution, as IL-6 levels in the majority of the samples were undetectable, which resulted in an underpowered sample (n = 16). Overall, these findings do not support the assumption that the behavioral immune system and the physiological immune system are associated.
Sevi, Baris, "Untangling the Reciprocal Relation of the Behavioral and Physiological Immune Systems" (2019). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 4101.