John Anthony Terrizzi, Jr., Ph.D.


John Anthony Terrizzi, Jr., Ph.D.

CFO 710


John Terrizzi, Jr.'s work explores the impact the behavioral immune system (BIS) plays in the formation and maintenance of social attitudes (e.g., interpersonal attitudes, political attitudes, prejudice, religion, etc.). The BIS is a suite of psychological mechanisms (e.g., disgust) that is believed to be an evolved solution to the adaptive challenge of infectious disease. Because person-to-person contact (e.g., exposure to bodily fluids) is a significant route of infectious disease, it follows that the BIS would have important consequences for social attitudes and behavior. Indeed, in a meta-analysis that I conducted (see Terrizzi et al., 2013), behavioral immune strength (e.g., disgust sensitivity and concern about infectious disease) was shown to be associated with social conservatism (e.g., conservative political and religious attitudes, xenophobia, etc.). Recently, I have begun to develop a meta-theoretical framework, which I call tidiness of mind. The embodied cognitive nature of disgust may have a broad impact on how we process and store social information. Some of my work has shown that disgust may encourage intolerance for ambiguity and the maintenance of strict categorical boundaries.


Ph.D., Psychology, West Virginia University, Morganton, WV
Other, Experimental (Social) Psychology, Ph.D. coursework, 2008-2011, Transferred with adviser to WVU, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
M.A., General/Experimental Psychology, The College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA
B.S., Peace Psychology, Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA

Research Interests

Disgust; Behavioral Immune System; Prejudice; Social Psychology; Evolutionary Psychology; Political Attitudes; Religious Beliefs

Latest Articles

In defense of pathogen disgust and disease avoidance: a response to Tybur et al. (2015)
Evolution and Human Behavior (2015)
Natalie J Shook, John Anthony Terrizzi, Jr., Russ Clay, Ben Oosterhoff

Current Projects

My current work is focused on the broad impact that disgust plays in how we process and store social information. My recent work suggests that disgust encourages individuals to maintain a tidy world in which categories are tightly monitored. As such, those who are sensitive to disgust report being less tolerant of ambiguity and prefer a world with strict categorical boundaries. One of the consequences of this tidiness of mind is that it influences the way that we perceive our romantic partners and ourselves. I have found that interpersonal disgust (i.e., disgust toward partners relative to strangers) predicts relationship satisfaction, investment, and attachment. More specifically, the less disgusted people are by their partners relative to strangers, the more they report being satisfied with their partner, and the more invested and attached they report being. In another series of studies, I have found that those who are more sensitive to disgust are more prone to shame.

Professional Affiliations

  • American Psychological Association Division 48 (Peace Psychology Division of APA)
  • Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES)
  • NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society (NEEPS)
  • Psi Chi (National Honor Society for Psychology)
  • Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR)
  • Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP)
  • Society of Southeastern Social Psychologists (SSSP)