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The Human Behavioral Immune System: Consequences for Health and Innovation

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 HBIS project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the HBIS project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "HBIS" about.

nature    viruses    rejection    quality    risk    innovations    members    caused    leveraged    soap    microbes    opaque    preceded    evolutionary    versus    methodologically    myriad    diverse    eating    shaped    effect    indoor    health    avoidance    array    modern    foundational    mating    homo    length    behaviors    psychological    foods    billions    suggests    dramatically    emotion    ranging    mechanisms    multiple    reduce    plumbing    fundamental    interpersonal    broadly    detect    behavior    disease    world    shaping    bacteria    compounds    trait    immune    natural    discoveries    gaining    questions    did    acceptance    dietary    human    pathogen    allowed    theory    million    hbis    behavioral    psychology    pathogens    coordinated    activation    suite    motivate    conditioned    harnessed    connote    utilize    from    infectious    learning    condoms    function    disgust    technological    genus    interdisciplinary    cues    critical    answer    life    detected    technologies    universal    olfactory    concerning    contact    shapes    chemical    aversions    insights    defenses    variation    holistic    people   

Project "HBIS" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: DE BOELELAAN 1105
postcode: 1081 HV

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Netherlands [NL]
 Total cost 1˙499˙482 €
 EC max contribution 1˙499˙482 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2015-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2016
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2016-07-01   to  2021-06-30


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    STICHTING VU NL (AMSTERDAM) coordinator 1˙499˙482.00


 Project objective

Modern innovations such as soap, condoms, and indoor plumbing have allowed billions of people to reduce their contact with viruses and bacteria and, as a result, dramatically increase length and quality of life. But how did members of the genus homo avoid pathogens for the two million years that preceded these technological innovations and, more broadly, discoveries that infectious disease is caused by microbes? And, importantly, how do any natural behavioral defenses against pathogens impact our behavior in the modern world? Recent research and theory in the field of evolutionary psychology suggests that natural selection has shaped a human behavioral immune system (HBIS)—a suite of psychological mechanisms, ranging from aspects of our olfactory systems (e.g., that detect specific chemical compounds) to our emotion systems (e.g., the emotion disgust) and our learning systems (e.g., conditioned aversions to foods) that are coordinated for a common function: to detect and motivate the avoidance of pathogens. Given that myriad universal human behaviors connote some pathogen risk—including interpersonal contact, mating, and eating—gaining a holistic understanding of the HBIS has the potential to offer critical new insights into multiple fundamental aspects of human nature. Here, I utilize an interdisciplinary approach to answer three foundational, yet currently opaque questions concerning the nature of the HBIS, including: (1) Where does trait variation in HBIS activation come from? (2) What effect does the HBIS have on behavior when cues to pathogens are detected? and (3) How does the HBIS facilitate learning of avoidance and rejection? To answer these questions, I propose an array of methodologically diverse studies to investigate how trait HBIS activation shapes rejection versus acceptance of innovations, how state HBIS activation can be harnessed to promote the use of health-promoting technologies, and how the HBIS can be leveraged for shaping dietary behavior.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2016 Joshua M. Tybur, Yoel Inbar, Lene Aarøe, Pat Barclay, Fiona Kate Barlow, Mícheál de Barra, D. Vaughn Becker, Leah Borovoi, Incheol Choi, Jong An Choi, Nathan S. Consedine, Alan Conway, Jane Rebecca Conway, Paul Conway, Vera Cubela Adoric, Dilara Ekin Demirci, Ana María Fernández, Diogo Conque Seco Ferreira, Keiko Ishii, Ivana Jakšić, Tingting Ji, Florian van Leeuwen, David M. G. Lewis, Norman P. Li, Jason C. McIntyre, Sumitava Mukherjee, Justin H. Park, Boguslaw Pawlowski, Michael Bang Petersen, David Pizarro, Gerasimos Prodromitis, Pavol Prokop, Markus J. Rantala, Lisa M. Reynolds, Bonifacio Sandin, Bariş Sevi, Delphine De Smet, Narayanan Srinivasan, Shruti Tewari, Cameron Wilson, Jose C. Yong, Iris Žeželj
Parasite stress and pathogen avoidance relate to distinct dimensions of political ideology across 30 nations
published pages: 12408-12413, ISSN: 0027-8424, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1607398113
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113/44 2019-06-19
2017 Catherine Molho, Joshua M. Tybur, Ezgi Güler, Daniel Balliet, Wilhelm Hofmann
Disgust and Anger Relate to Different Aggressive Responses to Moral Violations
published pages: 609-619, ISSN: 0956-7976, DOI: 10.1177/0956797617692000
Psychological Science 28/5 2019-06-19
2017 Joshua M. Ackerman, Joshua M. Tybur, Chad R. Mortensen
Infectious Disease and Imperfections of Self-Image
published pages: 228-241, ISSN: 0956-7976, DOI: 10.1177/0956797617733829
Psychological Science 29/2 2019-06-19
2017 Tom R. Kupfer, Joshua M. Tybur
Pathogen disgust and interpersonal personality
published pages: 379-384, ISSN: 0191-8869, DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2017.05.024
Personality and Individual Differences 116 2019-06-19
2019 Tingting Ji, Joshua M. Tybur, Mark van Vugt
Generalized or Origin-Specific Out-Group Prejudice?: The Role of Temporary and Chronic Pathogen-Avoidance Motivation in Intergroup Relations
published pages: 147470491982685, ISSN: 1474-7049, DOI: 10.1177/1474704919826851
Evolutionary Psychology 17/1 2019-06-03
2018 Joshua M. Tybur, Çağla Çınar, Annika K. Karinen, Paola Perone
Why do people vary in disgust?
published pages: 20170204, ISSN: 0962-8436, DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0204
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 373/1751 2019-05-10
2018 Benedict C. Jones, Amanda C. Hahn, Claire I. Fisher, Hongyi Wang, Michal Kandrik, Anthony J. Lee, Joshua M. Tybur, Lisa M. DeBruine
Hormonal correlates of pathogen disgust: testing the compensatory prophylaxis hypothesis
published pages: 166-169, ISSN: 1090-5138, DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2017.12.004
Evolution and Human Behavior 39/2 2019-05-10
2018 Gonzalo Palomo-Vélez, Joshua M. Tybur, Mark van Vugt
Unsustainable, unhealthy, or disgusting? Comparing different persuasive messages against meat consumption
published pages: 63-71, ISSN: 0272-4944, DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2018.08.002
Journal of Environmental Psychology 58 2019-05-10
2018 Joseph Billingsley, Debra Lieberman, Joshua M. Tybur
Sexual Disgust Trumps Pathogen Disgust in Predicting Voter Behavior During the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
published pages: 147470491876417, ISSN: 1474-7049, DOI: 10.1177/1474704918764170
Evolutionary Psychology 16/2 2019-05-10
2018 Benedict C. Jones, Amanda C. Hahn, Claire I. Fisher, Hongyi Wang, Michal Kandrik, Anthony J. Lee, Joshua M. Tybur, Lisa M. DeBruine
Reply to Fleischman and Fessler\'s (2018) comment on “Hormonal correlates of pathogen disgust: Testing the Compensatory Prophylaxis Hypothesis”
published pages: 470-471, ISSN: 1090-5138, DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2018.03.010
Evolution and Human Behavior 39/4 2019-05-10

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