College of Psychology Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

1-1-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)

Department

Center for Psychological Studies

First Advisor

Alexandru Cru

Second Advisor

Craig Marker

Third Advisor

Christian DeLucia

Fourth Advisor

Jeffrey Kibler

Keywords

disgust, disgust measure, disgust propensity, disgust propensity and evolutionary scale, disgust sensitivity, emotion

Abstract

The emotion of disgust is understudied. It has been implicated in various forms of psychopathology, but its overall influence remains unclear. New and improved methods and constructs are required if we are to better understand the relationship of disgust in attitude formation and psychological functioning. This study was an investigation of a measure referred to herein as the Disgust Propensity and Sensitivity Evolutionary Scale (DPSES). A total of 655 participants were recruited from a private university in the southeastern United States to complete a pencil -and-paper version of the measure in exchange for course credit. Exploratory factor analysis revealed an adequate five-factor structure that was further evaluated and supported through confirmatory factor analysis. The five-factor structure of the DPSES was determined to assess properties of disgust propensity, disgust sensitivity, sexual, moral, and pathogen disgust. Women's scores were significantly higher than males' across all subscales (Cohen's d = 0.59 for disgust propensity, d = 0.62 for disgust sensitivity, d = 1.73 for sexual disgust, d = 0.37 for moral disgust, and d = 0.70 for pathogen disgust). Women are repeatedly demonstrated to have stronger reactions to disgust than men, most particularly in relation to sexual associations. A better overall understanding of reactions, gender differences, and ways that maladaptive responses to disgust influence various psychological disorders and dysfunctions increases the potential for advancements in corresponding diagnostic and treatment strategies.

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