Several scholars have proposed that behavioral immune responses can account for worldwide human diversity in several behavioral and cognitive domains. Testing such claims generally relies on observational, cross-population data sets, posing challenges for causal inference. In this paper we describe four key pitfalls to using such data to test hypotheses for cross-population diversity based on a behavioral immune system. These issues are associated with (a) representativeness of sampling populations, (b) statistical artifacts of aggregation, (c) clustered data, and (d) spurious associations through unmeasured variables. We argue that these issues can be mitigated through careful attention to research design, analytic strategies, and serious treatments of alternative hypotheses.
- Behavioral immune system
- Pathogen stress
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Social Psychology