The Science of Disgust

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The Science of Disgust

The Science of Disgust

All of us know the feeling: your nose scrunches up and you stick out your tongue, feeling a little nauseated. It’s the feeling of seeing something gross, of being disgusted. Disgust is one of the most researched emotions right now, which means we have an explosion of new information about it. Check out the facts about disgust.

1. Disgust is considered commutative. If one thing that you find disgusting touches something else, the disgust will transfer to the other thing, and you’ll begin to find that disgusting as well. Think of a bug walking over a plate of food. No matter how sterile that bug might be, you still don’t want to eat the food.

2. One study suggests that being aroused can lessen feelings of disgust and make you more comfortable with things that would otherwise gross you out. It makes sense since out of context sex can be somewhat disgusting.

3. It’s well-known that pregnant women are more easily disgusted than most people, which led Daniel Fessler to hypothesize that hormones like progesterone might affect disgust. His most recent study shows that during some phases of the menstrual cycle women are more likely to feel disgust.

4. Disgust has also been linked with attitudes towards minority groups and with discrimination. One recent study found that people who were more disgusted by obese individuals were more likely to think that obese people had control over their weight and that more participants found obesity disgusting than found smoking, drugs, or homosexuality disgusting.

5. Some studies have found that conservatives are more likely to feel disgust than liberals.

6. One new tactic that researchers are using is to harness disgust for good. There are now campaigns to increase disgust of dirt and germs in countries like India in order to improve living conditions.

7. There are two distinct kinds of disgust. The first is innate, things that all cultures find disgusting, like rotting food or signs of infection or illness. But there is also a learned set of disgusts, more linked with moral disgust, that might include things like revulsion at certain sex acts or towards a specific group of people.

8. Where most emotions cause an increase in heart rate, disgust actually slows your heart and gives you a flash of nausea. It uses the same physiological cues that are in the digestive system.

Related topics disgust, emotions, psychology
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