Psychological and social factors associated with wastewater reuse emotional discomfort

Julia Wester, Kiara R Timpano, Demet Çek, Debra Lieberman, Shaina C. Fieldstone, Kenneth Broad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Wastewater reuse (WWR) technology has improved greatly in recent decades and may be an important solution to global water challenges. Nevertheless, several psychological and social barriers to widespread adoption still exist. Negative emotional reactions to WWR, known as the "yuck factor," have been identified as central to public acceptance. The present study used a large, context-neutral, web-based, U.S. sample (N=207), to examine factors underlying these negative emotions, here measured as discomfort felt toward WWR. We used a more nuanced measure to isolate what aspects of disgust sensitivity predict discomfort and then explored this relationship in the context of other individual and psychological differences. Being female, having less education, and being particularly sensitive to pathogen-related disgust stimuli, all were factors that were significantly and independently associated with reported discomfort. Mediation analysis showed that women felt greater discomfort because of higher levels of pathogen disgust sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-23
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Disgust
  • Emotion ideology
  • Exposure
  • Wastewater reuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Social Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Psychological and social factors associated with wastewater reuse emotional discomfort'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this