Disgust as embodied moral judgment

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2008 Aug;34(8):1096-109. doi: 10.1177/0146167208317771. Epub 2008 May 27.


How, and for whom, does disgust influence moral judgment? In four experiments participants made moral judgments while experiencing extraneous feelings of disgust. Disgust was induced in Experiment 1 by exposure to a bad smell, in Experiment 2 by working in a disgusting room, in Experiment 3 by recalling a physically disgusting experience, and in Experiment 4 through a video induction. In each case, the results showed that disgust can increase the severity of moral judgments relative to controls. Experiment 4 found that disgust had a different effect on moral judgment than did sadness. In addition, Experiments 2-4 showed that the role of disgust in severity of moral judgments depends on participants' sensitivity to their own bodily sensations. Taken together, these data indicate the importance-and specificity-of gut feelings in moral judgments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Morals*
  • Odorants
  • Social Perception*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires