Preventing Contagion With Avian Influenza: Disease Salience, Attitudes Toward Foreigners, and Avoidance Beliefs


  • The writing of this paper was supported by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant 10017 122366/1). The authors thank Mark Schaller for his helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.

Franciska Krings, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Lausanne, Internef 613, CH-1015 Lausanne-Dorigny, Switzerland. E-mail:


Building on an evolutionary approach to out-group avoidance, this study showed relations between perceived disease salience and beliefs in the efficacy of avoiding foreigners as protective measures in the context of a real-life pandemic risk; i.e., avian influenza. People for whom avian influenza was salient and who held unfavorable attitudes toward foreigners were more likely to believe that avoiding contact with foreigners protects against infection. This finding suggests that individual differences in social attitudes moderate evolved mechanisms relating threat of disease to out-group avoidance.