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Psychol Sci. 2010 May;21(5):649-52. doi: 10.1177/0956797610368064. Epub 2010 Apr 2.

Mere visual perception of other people's disease symptoms facilitates a more aggressive immune response.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada. schaller@psych.ubc.ca

Abstract

An experiment (N = 28) tested the hypothesis that the mere visual perception of disease-connoting cues promotes a more aggressive immune response. Participants were exposed either to photographs depicting symptoms of infectious disease or to photographs depicting guns. After incubation with a model bacterial stimulus, participants' white blood cells produced higher levels of the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the infectious-disease condition, compared with the control (guns) condition. These results provide the first empirical evidence that visual perception of other people's symptoms may cause the immune system to respond more aggressively to infection. Adaptive origins and functional implications are discussed.

PMID:
20483842
DOI:
10.1177/0956797610368064
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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