ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2022, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (8): 931-950.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2022.00931

• 研究报告 • 上一篇    下一篇


吴奇1,2(), 吴浩1,2, 周晴1,2, 陈东方1,2, 鲁帅1,2, 李林芮1,2   

  1. 1湖南师范大学教育科学学院心理学系
    2湖南师范大学认知与人类行为湖南省重点实验室, 长沙 410081
  • 收稿日期:2021-05-21 出版日期:2022-08-25 发布日期:2022-06-23
  • 通讯作者: 吴奇
  • 基金资助:
    国家自然科学基金项目(31300870);湖南省教育厅科学研究优秀青年项目(19B361);湖南师范大学青年优秀人才培养计划项目(社科类, 2015yx08)

The ancient behavioral immune system shapes the medical-seeking behavior in contemporary society

WU Qi1,2(), WU Hao1,2, ZHOU Qing1,2, CHEN Dongfang1,2, LU Shuai1,2, LI Linrui1,2   

  1. 1Department of Psychology, School of Educational Sciences, Hunan Normal University
    2Cognition and Human Behavior Key Laboratory of Hunan Province, Hunan Normal University, Changsha 410081, China
  • Received:2021-05-21 Online:2022-08-25 Published:2022-06-23
  • Contact: WU Qi


研究首次考察了行为免疫系统与个体就医行为倾向的关系。3个研究一致显示:行为免疫系统特质性激活水平较高的个体更容易对就医持消极态度和延迟就医; 情境性激活行为免疫系统会使得个体更不愿意就医和更倾向于延迟就医; 且行为免疫系统激活对就医态度和就医延迟倾向的影响以对就医感染风险的感知为中介。这支持了进化失配假说, 提示行为免疫系统对现代医学可能缺乏进化的适应性, 并为理解现代人类就医行为提供了新的理论视角。

关键词: 行为免疫系统, 厌恶, 就医行为, 延迟就医, 进化失配假说


Over the long course of evolution, in order to cope with the threat of pathogens, both animals and humans have evolved complex disease defense mechanisms, one of which is known as the behavioral immune system. The behavioral immune system is a complex suite of cognitive, affective, and behavioral mechanisms that ultimately help prevent pathogen transmission in the face of recurrent infectious disease threats. It functions by detecting threat-relevant cues in the environment and activating disgust-related responses aimed at diminishing those threats. However, in modern times, with advanced medical technology, the behavioral immune system may not always be beneficial to human disease control behaviors. Previous studies have found that, the social strategies that are designed to avoid infection in ancient times may lead to more serious health problems (e.g., the damage to the cardiovascular system) in modern society. These studies suggest that the behavioral immune system may be evolutionary mismatch in the modern and complex medical environment, which may have negative effects on our medical-seeking behavior. Therefore, we hypothesized that, in modern society, the activation of behavioral immune system will affect individuals' medical-seeking tendency, making individuals display more negative attitudes towards health-care and become more likely to delay their medical-seeking.
This hypothesis was systematically tested by three different studies. In these studies, we used a well-validated medical-seeking attitude questionnaire and a computerized patient delay task to measure the individuals' medical-seeking tendency. Specifically, in Study 1A (223 participants) and Study 2A (218 participants), we investigated the relationship between trait activation level of behavioral immune system and individuals' medical-seeking tendency by employing the scales of Disgust Scale-Revised Chinese and Perceived Vulnerability to Diseases. In Study 1B (198 participants) and Study 2B (174 participants), we situationally activated the behavioral immune system by asking the participants to watch disease-salient primes in order to investigate the effects of external disease cues on the medical-seeking tendency. In Study 3, we investigated that whether the effects of the activation of behavioral immune system on the medical-seeking attitude and tendency were mediated by the perception of the risk of hospital infection.
The results showed that: 1) core disgust negatively predicted the attitude of participants toward medical- seeking; 2) core disgust positively predicted the tendency of participants to delay medical-seeking; 3) situationally activating the behavioral immune system significantly affected the attitude of participants toward medical- seeking and the tendency of participants to delay medical-seeking, participants were found to be more likely to have a negative attitude toward medical-seeking and delay their medical-seeking after watching the disease- salient primes; 4) the perception of the risk of hospital infection mediated the relationship between the activation of behavioral immune system and medical-seeking attitude and tendency, participants who had higher core disgust or received disease-salient primes were more likely to perceive the medical-seeking situations as infectious, which subsequently led the participants to adopt more negative attitudes toward medical-seeking and to display stronger patient-delay tendency.
These results support our hypothesis, suggesting that the ancient behavioral immune system may have a negative effect on the medical-seeking behavior in contemporary society. These results are consistent with the evolutionary mismatch hypothesis and provide a new theoretical perspective for the further understanding of the medical-seeking behavior of modern humans.

Key words: behavioral immune system, disgust, medical-seeking behavior, patient delay, evolutionary mismatch hypothesis