Pathogen Salience and Sexual Decision Making

Although sexual behavior is obviously strongly selected for via evolutionary processes, indiscriminant sexuality is not. Sexual behavior has strong opportunity costs (e.g., women have a limited number of lifetime reproductive opportunities) and disease costs (e.g., sexually transmitted infections or pathogens transmitted more generally during close physical proximity), and people regulate their sexuality partially to avoid such costs. We are currently investigating the role that chronic and temporary perceptions of pathogen threats impact a variety of aspects of sexual decision making. Specifically, we are examining the role of pathogen avoidance in regulating specific behaviors that have disease costs but minimal reproductive benefits (e.g., oral sex), decisions to use sexual prophylactics (i.e., condoms), and desire to have a variety of sexual partners.

Primary Investigator Josh Tybur