Pizarro Ithaca Science Cabaret

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Published on March 24, 2010

Author: daproc

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Presentation on disgust and social judgment at Ithaca Science Cabaret on March 23, 2010.

Grossiology: How disgust shapes our social judgment david pizarro cornell university/department of psychology

in collaboration with Yoel Inbar http://www.yoelinbar.net/

Disgust

Disgust “A sense of aversion to something perceived as dangerous because of its powers to contaminate, infect, or pollute by proximity, contact, or ingestion.” (Miller, 1998).

• human universal

• human universal • “basic” emotion: characteristic facial expression

• human universal • “basic” emotion: characteristic facial expression • animals and animal by- products

• human universal • “basic” emotion: characteristic facial expression • animals and animal by- products • Feces

• human universal • “basic” emotion: characteristic facial expression • animals and animal by- products • Feces • Urine

• human universal • “basic” emotion: characteristic facial expression • animals and animal by- products • Feces • Urine • Blood

• human universal • “basic” emotion: characteristic facial expression • animals and animal by- products • Feces • Urine • Blood • Vomit

• human universal • “basic” emotion: characteristic facial expression • animals and animal by- products • Feces • Urine • Blood • Vomit • Rotten flesh

• human universal • “basic” emotion: characteristic facial expression • animals and animal by- products • Feces • Urine • Blood • Vomit • Rotten flesh • Most meat

• human universal • “basic” emotion: characteristic facial expression • animals and animal by- products • Feces • Urine • Blood • Vomit • Rotten flesh • Most meat • emerges (rather) late in development

• human universal • “basic” emotion: characteristic facial expression • animals and animal by- products • Feces • Urine • Blood • Vomit • Rotten flesh • Most meat • emerges (rather) late in development • protection against contamination

dedicated neural structures? • brain imaging studies show anterior insula activation • patients with Huntington’s Disease show disgust deficits (recognition of disgust faces, response to foul tastes and smells, self-report)

*easily elicited

the effects of disgust • provides strong behavioral motivation to expel, avoid, push-away, get rid of, etc. • but emotions don’t just influence behavior...

...emotions influence judgment “The emotions are all those feelings that so change men as to affect their judgments, …such are anger, pity, fear and the like, with their opposites…. Take, for instance, the emotion of anger: here we must discover…what the state of mind of angry people is, who the people are with whom they usually get angry, and on what grounds they get angry with them. It is not enough to know one or even two of these points; …the same is true of the other emotions” (Aristotle, Rhetoric, Book 2, Chapter 1).

disgust and moral judgment

disgust and moral judgment • disgust may be especially implicated in ethical systems which emphasize purity and divinity (Haidt & Graham, 2006)

disgust and moral judgment • disgust may be especially implicated in ethical systems which emphasize purity and divinity (Haidt & Graham, 2006) • in these ethical systems, a cue to “badness” is “dirtiness”.

disgust and moral judgment • disgust may be especially implicated in ethical systems which emphasize purity and divinity (Haidt & Graham, 2006) • in these ethical systems, a cue to “badness” is “dirtiness”. –conversely, clean = morally good

disgust and moral judgment • disgust may be especially implicated in ethical systems which emphasize purity and divinity (Haidt & Graham, 2006) • in these ethical systems, a cue to “badness” is “dirtiness”. –conversely, clean = morally good • inducing disgust for an individual can lead to a diminished moral respect and/or harsher treatment (Haidt & Wheatley, 2005; Schnall, Haidt & Clore, 2006)

varieties of disgust • Core Disgust--I’m disgusted by rotten meat. • Moral Disgust--”I’m disgusted by G.W.” • Metaphorical? • Real disgust? • Recent neurological evidence (Moll et al., 2005), and facial EMG data (Chapman et al., 2009)

distaste --> core disgust --> moral disgust Chapman et al, Science, 2009

disgust readily extends to people

disgust readily extends to people

disgust readily extends to people “In Tierra del Fuego a native touched with his finger some cold preserved meat while I was eating at our bivoac; and plainly showed disgust at its softness; whilst I felt utter disgust at my food being touched by a naked savage, though his hands did not appear dirty”

disgust and dirty “others”

disgust and dirty “others” “Thus, throughout history, certain disgust properties -- sliminess, bad smell, stickiness, decay, foulness -- have repeatedly and monotonously been associated with… Jews, women, homosexuals, untouchables, lower-class people -- all of those are imagined as tainted by the dirt of the body” - Martha Nussbaum

“Just look at these guys! The louse-infested beards! The filthy, protruding ears, Those stained, fatty clothes… Jews often have an unpleasant sweetish odor. If you have a good nose, you can smell the Jews." (Nazi Children’s Book, 1938)

gays are… • “worthy of death for their vile...sex practices… • “filthy” • like “dogs eating their own vomit and sows wallowing in their own feces” -www.godhatesfags.com

gross [moral] offense? “We’re living in a time that a lifestyle that at one time was on the list of mental disorders, called sodomy, is now called an alternative lifestyle. The Bible calls it abomination. Abomination is something disgusting.” Pastor Tim Oldfield, quoted in Kingdom Coming (pp. 74)

evidence: inducing core disgust makes individuals harsh moral judges • study: dirty desks – Brought people into the lab to fill out questionnaires asking for moral judgments • e.g., Joe stole 50 dollars from his friend – Completed them on a dirty, disgusting desk vs. on a clean desk • study: hypnotic disgust – Participants were hypnotized and told to feel flashes of disgust when they read a trivial word – Disgust made people more harsh in their judgments of others • In both cases, people were harsher in their judgments of others.

are people who are easily disgusted more likely to adopt some of these moral beliefs?

disgust sensitivity questionnaire (Haidt, McCauley, & Rozin, 1994)

disgust sensitivity questionnaire (Haidt, McCauley, & Rozin, 1994) • sample items (“core disgust”) :

disgust sensitivity questionnaire (Haidt, McCauley, & Rozin, 1994) • sample items (“core disgust”) : - I try to avoid letting any part of my body touch the toilet seat in a public restroom, even when it appears clean.

disgust sensitivity questionnaire (Haidt, McCauley, & Rozin, 1994) • sample items (“core disgust”) : - I try to avoid letting any part of my body touch the toilet seat in a public restroom, even when it appears clean. - Even if I were hungry, I would not drink a bowl of my favorite soup if it had been stirred by a used but thoroughly washed fly-swatter.

disgust sensitivity questionnaire (Haidt, McCauley, & Rozin, 1994) • sample items (“core disgust”) : - I try to avoid letting any part of my body touch the toilet seat in a public restroom, even when it appears clean. - Even if I were hungry, I would not drink a bowl of my favorite soup if it had been stirred by a used but thoroughly washed fly-swatter. - While you are walking through a tunnel under a railroad track, you smell urine.

disgust sensitivity questionnaire (Haidt, McCauley, & Rozin, 1994) • sample items (“core disgust”) : - I try to avoid letting any part of my body touch the toilet seat in a public restroom, even when it appears clean. - Even if I were hungry, I would not drink a bowl of my favorite soup if it had been stirred by a used but thoroughly washed fly-swatter. - While you are walking through a tunnel under a railroad track, you smell urine. • not the same as other personality measures

disgust sensitivity questionnaire (Haidt, McCauley, & Rozin, 1994) • sample items (“core disgust”) : - I try to avoid letting any part of my body touch the toilet seat in a public restroom, even when it appears clean. - Even if I were hungry, I would not drink a bowl of my favorite soup if it had been stirred by a used but thoroughly washed fly-swatter. - While you are walking through a tunnel under a railroad track, you smell urine. • not the same as other personality measures • predicts behavior

disgusting politics

disgust & political conservatism Inbar, Pizarro & Bloom (2009) Cognition and Emotion, 23, 714-725.

disgust & political conservatism Inbar, Pizarro & Bloom (2009) Cognition and Emotion, 23, 714-725. • N=181 participants from Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois (“swing” states)

disgust & political conservatism Inbar, Pizarro & Bloom (2009) Cognition and Emotion, 23, 714-725. • N=181 participants from Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois (“swing” states) – Disgust Sensitivity correlated with political conservatism, r(181) = .21, p < .01.

disgust & political conservatism Inbar, Pizarro & Bloom (2009) Cognition and Emotion, 23, 714-725. • N=181 participants from Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois (“swing” states) – Disgust Sensitivity correlated with political conservatism, r(181) = .21, p < .01. • N=82 UCI undergrads

disgust & political conservatism Inbar, Pizarro & Bloom (2009) Cognition and Emotion, 23, 714-725. • N=181 participants from Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois (“swing” states) – Disgust Sensitivity correlated with political conservatism, r(181) = .21, p < .01. • N=82 UCI undergrads – Disgust Sensitivity correlated with Political Conservatism; r(82)=.29, p < .01

follow-up study (cornell university)

follow-up study (cornell university) • Full (32-item) DS Scale, better measure of political orientation, asked about specific political beliefs

follow-up study (cornell university) • Full (32-item) DS Scale, better measure of political orientation, asked about specific political beliefs • DS and Political Conservatism, r(81) = .26, p < .05.

follow-up study (cornell university) • Full (32-item) DS Scale, better measure of political orientation, asked about specific political beliefs • DS and Political Conservatism, r(81) = .26, p < .05. • Explained by sociomoral beliefs

follow-up study (cornell university) • Full (32-item) DS Scale, better measure of political orientation, asked about specific political beliefs • DS and Political Conservatism, r(81) = .26, p < .05. • Explained by sociomoral beliefs – Gay Marriage

follow-up study (cornell university) • Full (32-item) DS Scale, better measure of political orientation, asked about specific political beliefs • DS and Political Conservatism, r(81) = .26, p < .05. • Explained by sociomoral beliefs – Gay Marriage – Abortion

more disgust sensitive = greater opposition to gay marriage

more disgust sensitive = greater opposition to gay marriage

more disgust sensitive = greater opposition to abortion

more disgust sensitive = greater opposition to abortion

disgust sensitivity not associated with: • Death Penalty • Affirmative Action • Welfare • Gun-Control

disgust sensitivity predicts implicit anti-gay attitudes Inbar, Pizarro, Knobe & Bloom (2009) Emotion, 9, 435-439. Straight Gay

disgust sensitivity predicts implicit anti-gay attitudes Inbar, Pizarro, Knobe & Bloom (2009) Emotion, 9, 435-439. Straight Gay • N = 48 Cornell Undergraduates

disgust sensitivity predicts implicit anti-gay attitudes Inbar, Pizarro, Knobe & Bloom (2009) Emotion, 9, 435-439. Straight Gay • N = 48 Cornell Undergraduates • Given Disgust-Sensitivity Scale, Political Items, and Gay/Straight IAT

disgust sensitivity predicts implicit anti-gay attitudes Inbar, Pizarro, Knobe & Bloom (2009) Emotion, 9, 435-439. Straight Gay • N = 48 Cornell Undergraduates • Given Disgust-Sensitivity Scale, Political Items, and Gay/Straight IAT • Disgust Sensitivity predicts implicit anti-gay attitudes

disgust sensitivity predicts implicit anti-gay attitudes Inbar, Pizarro, Knobe & Bloom (2009) Emotion, 9, 435-439. Straight Gay • N = 48 Cornell Undergraduates • Given Disgust-Sensitivity Scale, Political Items, and Gay/Straight IAT • Disgust Sensitivity predicts implicit anti-gay attitudes • Follow-up: disgust sensitivity correlated with the extent to which people perceive encouraging homosexuality as intentional

could manipulating disgust affect anti-gay bias?

could manipulating disgust affect anti-gay bias? • two studies conducted on cornell university undergraduates

could manipulating disgust affect anti-gay bias? • two studies conducted on cornell university undergraduates • first completed a political attitudes questionnaire

could manipulating disgust affect anti-gay bias? • two studies conducted on cornell university undergraduates • first completed a political attitudes questionnaire • next completed a gay/lesbian feeling thermometer

could manipulating disgust affect anti-gay bias? • two studies conducted on cornell university undergraduates • first completed a political attitudes questionnaire • next completed a gay/lesbian feeling thermometer • manipulation

could manipulating disgust affect anti-gay bias? • two studies conducted on cornell university undergraduates • first completed a political attitudes questionnaire • next completed a gay/lesbian feeling thermometer • manipulation –for half of the participants, a foul odor was sprayed in the garbage can of the lab

bad smell = greater anti-gay feelings ,-./0*1$ 2314536$ 738039.$ )*+$ !"#$ !%&$ !%#$ !'&$ !'#$ !(&$ !(#$ !&$ #$ *straight-gay diff., standardized

“gut” morality • The need to protect the body against contaminants likely gave rise to disgust reaction • Strong, visceral motivation to avoid and expel foul stimuli • Applied to people, it can lead to harsh judgments and moral rejection when individuals and groups are perceived as disgusting.

from dirt to cleanliness: the motivation to stay clean • disgust mechanism = focus on contamination? • could physical cleanliness also give rise to a similar concern with contamination? – once your car is washed, vigilant of puddles and parking under trees – teeth-cleaning makes me avoid coffee for a day or two

hand-washing and moral purity • all participants brought into a lab and asked to complete demographics, political orientation (moral, fiscal, social) • moral judgment items –moral purity (non-sexual) –moral purity (sexual) –moral (non-purity) • in hand washing condition, big sign to remind participants to wash hands • asked to wash hands before moral judgment items (or not)

moral judgment items (examples) • Moral (non-purity) – In order to increase her chances of getting a job at a prestigious firm, a college graduate writes an reference letter that honestly details her strengths, but signs it with the name of a former boss (whom she knew liked her). • Moral (sexual purity) – After they have been sexually active for over a year, a woman and her boyfriend discover that they have the same father-- they are actually half brother and sister, but were raised in separate families from the time they were born. They decide that the new information doesn't matter, and continue their sexual relationship. The couple is careful to use protection.

moral judgment y axis represents moral approval No main effect of condition or item type Condition X Item interaction, F (2, 58) = 3.90, p < .05 Condition simple effect significant for sexual purity items only, t (60) = 3.04, p < .01

unexpected: clean hands affected political orientation (higher numbers = more liberal) y axis represents self-reported liberalism (social, moral, fiscal) t (60) = 3.09, p < .01

political orientation?: field study • could a hand-washing reminder alone influence political orientation in a public setting? • participants randomly asked to complete one- page demographic questionnaire including 3 political orientation items • either asked to do it “by the hand cleaning” stand (placed on the left or right of the entrance to building) 43

44

political orientation: field study (lower numbers = more conservative) y axis represents self-reported liberalism (social, moral, fiscal) t (52) = 2.31, p < .05

should disgust/cleanliness play a role in moral judgment? (Inbar & Pizarro, 2009) • Leon Kass famously argued that disgust was a reliable cue that something was wrong. – Without disgust we are “souls who have forgotten to shudder”. • nonetheless, the degree to which disgust can unduly influence judgments of individuals and groups should lead us to be wary of its effects. • an emotion that arose in order to keep us from eating poisons should perhaps not be used to determine the moral worth of others

thank you! For published papers mentioned here: www.peezer.net

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