Are physiological and behavioral immune responses negatively correlated? Evidence from hormone-linked differences in men's face preferences

Kandrik, Michal and Hahn, Amanda C and Fisher, Claire I and Wincenciak, Joanna and DeBruine, Lisa M and Jones, Benedict C (2017) Are physiological and behavioral immune responses negatively correlated? Evidence from hormone-linked differences in men's face preferences. Hormones and Behavior, 87. pp. 57-61. ISSN 1095-6867

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    Abstract

    Behaviors that minimize exposure to sources of pathogens can carry opportunity costs. Consequently, how individuals resolve the tradeoff between the benefits and costs of behavioral immune responses should be sensitive to the extent to which they are vulnerable to infectious diseases. However, although it is a strong prediction of this functional flexibility principle, there is little compelling evidence that individuals with stronger physiological immune responses show weaker behavioral immune responses. Here we show that men with the combination of high testosterone and low cortisol levels, a hormonal profile recently found to be associated with particularly strong physiological immune responses, show weaker preferences for color cues associated with carotenoid pigmentation. Since carotenoid cues are thought to index vulnerability to infectious illnesses, our results are consistent with the functional flexibility principle's prediction that individuals with stronger physiological immune responses show weaker behavioral immune responses.