We see, smell, or taste something revolting and we are disgusted by it.
- Feeling aversion,
- Reaction to toxic substances,
- Reaction to morally objectionable behavior.
Root: Late Old French desgouster, to lose one's appetite.
Aversion, revulsion, and repulsive are close synonyms for disgust.
Tasting or even thinking of tasting something unpleasant, a foul odor, the
sight of something repulsive, and the appearance of people who may be deformed,
crippled, or ugly can trigger disgust. Oral engagement of something offensive or
contaminated is a particularly powerful trigger of disgust. Bodily products
including feces, vomit, urine, mucus, and blood are potent universal triggers
Foods commonly eaten in one culture can be disgusting to people who have not
grown up eating them. For example, horse meat is a delicacy in France, and dog
meat is often eaten in Asian countries. Most Americans find both dishes
Paradoxically, children, adolescents, and some adults are often fascinated
with disgust. Novelty stores sell realistic plastic replicas of disgusting
bodily products. Jokes, movies, and practical jokes often rely on disgusting
features. Horror films, traffic accidents, violent sports, and sexually
repugnant actions have their own goulash attraction for many people.
Married couples, and others in close relationships, can become “fed-up” with
their partners. This form of disgust communicates they have lost patience with
their partner's offensive behavior or stonewalling.
Intimacy can Raise the Threshold
Parents change dirty diapers for their infants and lovers enjoy exchanging
body fluids. It seems that what might cause disgust among strangers is not
disgusting within an intimate relationship.
Benefits and Dangers of Disgust
Disgust serves to remove us from a revolting or toxic substance, including
people who are behaving offensively. Disgust works to preserve
purity; we become disgusted when we judge
something to be impure. A danger is that our disgust with another
person can dehumanize them and make empathy more
The facial expression of disgust communicates the presence of toxins.
|The facial expression of disgust has these distinctive
- The upper and lower lips are raised,
- Nostril wings are raised,
- A deep wrinkle extends from the nostrils down below the lips,
- The bridge of the nose is wrinkled,
- Raised cheeks form crow's feet wrinkles.
Passion and Reason: Making Sense of Our Emotions, by Richard S.
Lazarus, Bernice N. Lazarus
Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life,
by Paul Ekman
The Cognitive Structure of Emotions,
by Andrew Ortony, Gerald L. Clore, Allan Collins
Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama,
by Daniel Goleman
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Create Your Life, Your Relationships, and Your World in Harmony with Your Values,
Marshall B. Rosenberg, Arun Gandhi
Fear, Sadness, Anger, Joy, Surprise, Disgust, Contempt,
Anger, Envy, Jealousy, Fright, Anxiety, Guilt, Shame, Relief, Hope, Sadness, Depression, Happiness,
Pride, Love, Gratitude, Compassion, Aesthetic Experience,
Joy, Distress, Happy-for, Sorry-for, Resentment, Gloating, Pride, Shame, Admiration, Reproach,
Love, Hate, Hope, Fear, Satisfaction, Relief, Fears-confirmed, Disappointment, Gratification,
Gratitude, Anger, Remorse,
power, dominance, stature, relationships