Faculty Articles

Title

Reevaluating Moral Disgust: Sensitivity to Many Affective States Predicts Extremity in Many Evaluative Judgments

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-30-2017

Keywords

disgust sensitivity, emotion, moral judgment, aesthetic judgment, affect as information

Publication Title

Social Psychological and Personality Science

ISSN

1948-5514

Volume

10

Issue/No.

2

Abstract

Disgust-sensitive individuals are particularly morally critical. Some theorists take this as evidence that disgust has a uniquely moral form: disgust contributes to moralization even of pathogen-free violations, and disgust’s contribution to moralization is unique from other emotional states. We argue that the relationship between disgust sensitivity (DS) and moral judgment is not special in two respects. First, trait sensitivity to many other affective states, beyond disgust, predicts moral evaluations. Second, DS also predicts nonnormative evaluative judgments. Four studies supported these hypotheses, using multiple measures of DS, and judgments of moral violations (Studies 1 and 4), conventional violations (Study 1), imprudent actions (Study 1), competence (Study 2), and aesthetic evaluations (Study 3). Our findings call into question the usefulness of “moral disgust” as a psychological construct by showing that the relationship between DS and moral condemnation is one instantiation of a more general association between affect and judgment.

DOI

10.1177/1948550617736110

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