Handbook of Cognition and Emotion

By Tim Dalgleish; Mick J. Power | Go to book overview
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Chapter 21
Disgust: The Body and Soul Emotion

Paul Rozin
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Jonathan Haidt
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA and
Clark R. McCauley
Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA, USA

Disgust is on virtually every list of “basic emotions”, from the second century Natyashastra from India (Masson & Patwardhan, 1970; Hejmadi, 1998; Shweder, 1993), through Darwin's (1872) Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals and on to contemporary textbooks. Like other basic emotions, disgust links together cognitive and bodily responses; it can be well analyzed within the Tomkins/Ekman (Ekman, 1984) framework as an affect “program”, in which outputs (behaviors, expressions, physiological responses) are triggered by inputs (cognitive appraisals of environmental events). It is the thesis of this chapter that disgust, as experienced by humans around the world, shows a high degree of constancy or conservatism on the output side (i.e. expression, nausea and behavioral tendency), but has undergone an extraordinary transformation and expansion on the appraisal side (Rozin, Haidt & McCauley, 1993; 1997a; Haidt et al., 1997). This expansion varies with history and culture in a way that takes disgust far beyond its animal precursors on the appraisal side.


The constellation of responses associated with the emotion of disgust is relatively stable across situations, cultures and even species, and consists of expressive


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