Microbes, Mating, and Morality: Individual Differences in Three Functional Domains of Disgust

Joshua M. Tybur, Debra Lieberman, Vladas Griskevicius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

410 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

What is the function of disgust? Whereas traditional models have suggested that disgust serves to protect the self or neutralize reminders of our animal nature, an evolutionary perspective suggests that disgust functions to solve 3 qualitatively different adaptive problems related to pathogen avoidance, mate choice, and social interaction. The authors investigated this 3-domain model of disgust across 4 studies and examined how sensitivity to these functional domains relates to individual differences in other psychological constructs. Consistent with their predictions, factor analyses demonstrated that disgust sensitivity partitions into domains related to pathogens, sexuality, and morality. Further, sensitivity to the 3 domains showed predictable differentiation based on sex, perceived vulnerability to disease, psychopathic tendencies, and Big 5 personality traits. In exploring these 3 domains of disgust, the authors introduce a new measure of disgust sensitivity. Appreciation of the functional heterogeneity of disgust has important implications for research on individual differences in disgust sensitivity, emotion, clinical impairments, and neuroscience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-122
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Volume97
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2009

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Individuality
morality
Ego
Sexuality
Interpersonal Relations
Neurosciences
neurosciences
personality traits
Statistical Factor Analysis
Personality
sexuality
Emotions
vulnerability
emotion
animal
Psychology
Disease
interaction
Research

Keywords

  • disgust
  • emotions
  • evolutionary psychology
  • individual differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Psychology

Cite this

Microbes, Mating, and Morality : Individual Differences in Three Functional Domains of Disgust. / Tybur, Joshua M.; Lieberman, Debra; Griskevicius, Vladas.

In: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 97, No. 1, 01.07.2009, p. 103-122.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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