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ERIC Number: EJ830684
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 167
ISSN: ISSN-0033-2909
Disgust as a Disease-Avoidance Mechanism
Oaten, Megan; Stevenson, Richard J.; Case, Trevor I.
Psychological Bulletin, v135 n2 p303-321 Mar 2009
Many researchers have claimed that the emotion of disgust functions to protect us from disease. Although there have been several discussions of this hypothesis, none have yet reviewed the evidence in its entirety. The authors derive 14 hypotheses from a disease-avoidance account and evaluate the evidence for each, drawing upon research on pathogen avoidance in animals and empirical research on disgust. In all but 1 case, the evidence favors a disease-avoidance account. It is suggested that disgust is evoked by objects/people that possess particular types of prepared features that connote disease. Such simple disgusts are directly disease related, are acquired during childhood, and are able to contaminate other objects/people. The complex disgusts, which emerge later in development, may be mediated by several emotions. In these cases, violations of societal norms that may subserve a disease-avoidance function, notably relating to food and sex, act as reminders of simple disgust elicitors and thus generate disgust and motivate compliance. The authors find strong support for a disease-avoidance account and suggest that it offers a way to bridge the divide between concrete and ideational accounts of disgust. (Contains 1 table.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A