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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Disease avoidance goals interfere with the spontaneous inference of traits
by McCarthy, Randy James, Ph.D., Northern Illinois University, 2012, 199; 3513143
Abstract (Summary)

Other people are consequential for social outcomes; humans have evolved psychological adaptations in order to maximize these outcomes. Theorists suggest that one such adaptation is to spontaneously abstract dispositional information from the observation of others' behaviors—a phenomenon dubbed Spontaneous Trait Inference. Despite having a chronic interaction goal, humans also can have proximal motivations that may alter the tendency to infer trait information. One such proximal goal may be the motivation to minimize exposure to infectious diseases. When people feel vulnerable to communicable diseases they have a preference to avoid others and minimize physical proximity. I hypothesized, and found evidence for, the idea that this perceived vulnerability reduces the tendency to make spontaneous trait inferences. Six additional experiments were conducted in order to test plausible alternative hypotheses for this effect and to document the hypothesized causal chain. Implications and future research directions are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Skowronski, John J.
Commitee: Durik, Amanda, Rabenhorst, Mandy, Sagarin, Brad, Santuzzi, Alecia, Wiemer, Katja
School: Northern Illinois University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-B 73/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Behavioral psychology, Social psychology
Keywords: Behavioral immune system, Disease avoidance, Spontaneous trait inferences
Publication Number: 3513143
ISBN: 978-1-267-42859-2
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