Disgust is one of the primary emotions and one that we most easily recognise.ï¿½ Our sense of disgust has evolved for good reason ï¿½ it protects us from the harmful bacteria that proliferate on decaying plant and animal matter, on our excretions and in bodily fluids.
But recently, a group of researchers at the University of British Columbia, led by Professor Mark Schaller, found that the emotion of disgust can serve a second important function in protecting us from disease.
Schaller and his colleagues* exposed 28 subjects to one of two stress-inducing sets of images:
People with obvious illnesses
They then measured the stress response by looking at how much interleukin-6 (IL-6) was secreted by the subjectsï¿½ white blood cells.ï¿½ This secretion is a known response to stress or trauma and helps our bodies fight bacterial infection.ï¿½ The subjects reported finding the images of gunmen more stressful, but their blood tests showed that their bodies responded more powerfully to the images of sick people.ï¿½ IL-6 increased by 6.6% for the gun images and by 23.6%ï¿½ for the disease images.
So the message is clear: to fight the effects of the common cold, take a good long look at all of the sick people around you and their disgusting sniffing and sneezing!
* The researchers were Mark Schaller, Gregory E. Miller, Will M. Gervais,ï¿½ Sarah Yager, and Edith Chen and you can view their paper by clicking on: ï¿½Mere Visual Perception of Other Peopleï¿½s Disease Symptoms Facilitates a More Aggressive Immune Responseï¿½
Brilliant Stress Management is out now
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