What Is Disgust?

The emotion of disgust evolved initially to optimize responses to the omnivore's dilemma. Individuals who had a properly calibrated sense of disgust were able to consume more calories than their overly disgustable cousins while consuming fewer dangerous microbes than their insufficiently disgustable cousins.

- Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind

Podcast of the Day

Disgust is something that we all experience, but what purpose does it serve? And what role does it play in our moral judgements?

Mike Williams speaks to the ‘disgustologist’ Val Curtis about how revulsion protects us from disease and learns how disgust can be used – and abused - as a political weapon.

He tests the limits of his own disgust, finds out what it’s like to be the object of someone else’s disgust and explores the idea that there is “wisdom in repugnance” with philosopher Steve Clarke.

Listen to The Why Factor episode on Disgust

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

The young man was having sex with his dog. In fact, he’d lost his virginity to it. Their relationship was still very good; the dog didn’t seem to mind at all. But the man’s conscience was eating at him. Was he acting immorally?

In search of sage counsel, he sent an email to David Pizarro, who teaches a class on moral psychology at Cornell University in New York. ‘I thought he was just pulling my leg,’ said Pizarro. He sent the man a link to an article about bestiality, and thought that would be the end of it. But the man responded with more questions. ‘I realised this kid was pretty serious.’...

Continue reading Kathleen McAuliffe's article: How disgust made humans cooperate to build civilizations

Further Reading

Disgust is an emotional response of revulsion to something considered offensive, distasteful, or unpleasant. In The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Charles Darwin wrote that disgust is a sensation that refers to something revolting. Disgust is experienced primarily in relation to the sense of taste (either perceived or imagined), and secondarily to anything which causes a similar feeling by sense of smell, touch, or vision. Musically sensitive people may even be disgusted by the cacophony of inharmonious sounds. Research continually has proven a relationship between disgust and anxiety disorders such as arachnophobia, blood-injection-injury type phobias, and contamination fear related obsessive–compulsive disorder (also known as OCD)...

Continue reading the Wikipedia article on Disgust

Bonus Webcomic

Shuts Off - SMBC

Related Topics

If you’re interested in disgust, check out some of the following related topics for more resources:

Anthropology | Desire | Emotion | Guilt | Human Nature | Moral Psychology | Psychology

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