Binding together to avoid illness: Pathogen avoidance and moral worldviews.

In response to the persistent threat of illness, a coordinated set of psychological mechanisms evolved to protect people (and other organisms) against possible exposure to pathogens. Some research suggests that pathogen avoidance is associated with morality, specifically a greater emphasis on moral values that bind groups together and prioritize unifying and protecting one’s group. The aims of the current studies were (a) to replicate the association between chronic (i.e., trait level) pathogen avoidance and endorsement of group-binding moral values and (b) to test whether experimentally activating pathogen avoidance would increase endorsement of group-binding moral values. Across five studies, we replicated the association between chronic pathogen avoidance and endorsement of group-binding moral values. In contrast, situationally activating pathogen avoidance did not produce a consistent effect on endorsement of moral values. Although we saw no consistent evidence for effects of situationally activated pathogen avoidance motives, the evidence linking dispositional pathogen avoidance to group-binding moral values was strong, suggesting fundamental links between chronic pathogen avoidance processes and moral psychology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)