The rural communities, which involved people who lived in 28 homes, are “characterized by subsistence-based lifestyles and high pathogen burden,” researchers wrote in PNAS.
“The higher the level of disgust, the lower the level of their inflammatory biomarkers indicative of infections,” Aaron D. Blackwell, an associate professor of anthropology at WSU and co-author of the study said according to The Seattle Times. “While the study shows that disgust functions to protect against infection, it also showed it varies across different environments, based on how easily people can avoid certain things.”
Researchers noted that the “findings support the hypothesis that disgust functions to regulate pathogen exposure, demonstrating the importance of evolved psychological mechanisms in disease avoidance.” Still, it doesn’t demonstrate much for being infected with the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
Blackwell told the newspaper that revulsion “doesn’t protect us very well against pandemics like COVID-19 in part because there isn’t something you can see to avoid.”