Monday, June 10, 2019

Pathogen sensitivity shapes preference for romantic and sexual partner health

Pathogen sensitivity shapes preference for romantic and sexual partner health. Marjorie L. Prokosch, James B. Moran, Damian R. Murray. Human Behavior and Evolution Society 31st annual meeting. Boston 2019.

Abstract: Ecological contexts have long influenced romantic and sexual partner choice, such that specific partner traits may be especially valued in contexts where they help to mitigate or solve a salient adaptive problem. The current research examined how the adaptive problem posed by pathogens shapes people’s preference for health when selecting mates. We hypothesized that people who report high vulnerability (infectability, sickness history) and sensitivity to pathogens (germ aversion, disgust, current pathogen threat) would emphasize health when selecting potential romantic and sexual partners. Participants (N = 365) reported their standards and desire for 9 different partner traits (including health) when choosing a mate, followed by self-report measures of pathogen vulnerability and sensitivity. While results did not support the notion that vulnerability to infection is related to increased desire for healthy partners, they did reveal a positive relationship between pathogen sensitivity and partner health. Further, there was a main effect of pathogen sensitivity, such that highly sensitive people were exacting in their preferences for a variety of partner traits beyond health. Implications of these results will be discussed.

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