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

Pathogens, and antipathogen behavioral strategies, affect myriad aspects of human behavior. Recent findings suggest that antipathogen strategies relate to political attitudes, with more ideologically conservative individuals reporting more disgust toward pathogen cues, and with higher parasite stress nations being, on average, more conservative. However, no research has yet adjudicated between two theoretical accounts proposed to explain these relationships between pathogens and politics. We find that national parasite stress and individual disgust sensitivity relate more strongly to adherence to traditional norms than they relate to support for barriers between social groups. These results suggest that the relationship between pathogens and politics reflects intragroup motivations more than intergroup motivations.

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