Dating and Disease
Is this surprising? Not really, and a 2017 study conducted by a group of psychologists at Montréal’s McGill University confirms this. They looked into whether people’s dating behavior would change if they were worried about the risk of infectious disease, or if they would simply brave the consequences of potentially deadly illness in the interests of finding a partner or getting laid. The study consisted of a 15-item questionnaire that asked several hundred male and female participants their feelings about contagious illness-related questions such as “It really bothers me when people sneeze without covering their mouths.” The questions were part of a test called the perceived vulnerability to disease scale, or PVDS.
The results found that those who were more scared of catching an infection disease, showed less interest in prospective mates and casual dates. This was true regardless of how attractive the dates were. While this might sound obvious today, it was quite surprising at the time, when COVID-19 or other pathogens weren’t even a blip on the radar. But the reasons are well-known to evolutionary psychologists, who believe that humans evolved to become unconsciously wary of infectious diseases. This in turn encourages a set of behavioral patterns that would reduce the likelihood of catching an illness from another person. This diffidence might look something like avoiding eye contact, remaining closed, and not being willing to touch or stand close to other people.