Personality, emotionality, and morality


In the last few decades, there has been considerable theoretical and empirical work linking emotions, and in particular, the emotion disgust, to people’s judgments of moral transgressions. One prominent line of inquiry has focused on whether stable individual differences in disgust sensitivity are associated with harsher moral judgments. Though this relationship is considered to well-established, it is unclear whether the role of disgust in moral judgement is limited to a specific type of disgust (versus many) and/or a specific domain of morality (versus many).

Research Questions / Hypotheses

Specifically, this study focuses on understanding how sexual disgust relates to various moral and political outcomes (independent of other types of disgust and negative emotions).


There were 298 REP participants.


Participants completed a battery of established measures/questionnaires that tap into individual differences in disgust sensitivity and individual differences in moral concerns/judgments. These include:    - Three Domains Disgust Scale    - Disgust Sale-Revised    - Moral Foundations Questionnaire    - Moral Foundations Vignettes    - Moral Dilemma Battery    - Spielberger State-Trait Anger Inventory    - Neuroticism (Big Five Aspects Scales)


Based on preliminary analyses, we found the following:    - Sexual disgust and pathogen disgust similarly predicted moral judgements across domains of morality    - Sexual disgust was a stronger predictor of moral judgements related to purity, authority, and loyalty than pathogen disgust    - Pathogen disgust was a stronger predictor of moral judgements related to harm and fairness than sexual disgust    - All of the above relationships held when accounting for the effects of other emotions (e.g., anger, neuroticism)


The implications are that disgust has a complex relationship with moral judgement. While sensitivity to pathogen disgust is primarily involved in concerns about harm and fairness, sensitivity to sexual disgust is primarily involved in concerns about group loyalty, deference to authority, and sanctity. Understanding these differences enables more nuanced theorising about the evolved function of disgust in guiding people's moral and political concerns.    This study will be one of several studies included in a journal article. It might also be included in a conference presentation at some point.