Thinking about germs seems to increase people's concerns about their physical appearance, especially if they are chronic infection-phobes, according to an article on the Infection Control Today website.
New research published in Psychological Science suggests that the possibility of contagion activates the "behavioral immune system," leading individuals to focus not only on their vulnerability to disease but also how they appear to others, the article said.
"The behavioral immune system helps us search out signs of infection in others, even signs that are innocuous and don't actually indicate infection, and often leads us to avoid those people," psychological scientist Joshua Ackerman of the University of Michigan, lead author on the new research, said in the article.
"This work is important because it demonstrates situations when people may engage in problematic health behaviors and spending, but also because it suggests that we might improve some of the negativity people have about their appearance by alleviating their concerns about infectious disease," according to Ackerman.
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