Departmental Honors Project Title

Human Vision Inspires Cortisol and Immune Behaviors

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Degree Type

Honors Project


College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Matthew Olson

Second Advisor

Lisa Ferguson Stegall


Ten-minute slideshows of disease stimuli were presented to human participants who donated saliva samples before and after its completion. Much to our surprise, this research found cortisol decreased upon the visual perception of a disease threat, a response depicting the physiological consequences of Behavior Immune System activation. Even subliminal exposure to disease stimuli, totaling only 0.5 seconds over the ten-minute slideshow, was found to elicit a cortisol response.