Evolutionary Disgust


  • Disgust is considered a basic emotion that is hard-wired to promote survival
  • Disgust helps us avoid rotten food that could make us sick and die
  • A survey showed that participants had the strongest disgust reactions to items that threaten the immune system like pathogens (Curtis et al., 2004) PDF

Nausea and Pregnancy (Fessler, 2006) PDF

  • Pregnant women get an influx of hormones that lowers the immune system's defenses when they are pregnant
  • This happens because the baby is a foreign object to the body and if the immune system wasn't weakened it would attack the baby
  • The researchers wanted to see if nausea compensates for the weakend immune system
  • Method: They showed pregnant women different scenarios like stepping on an earthworm (which is gross but not relevant to getting sick) and maggots on meat (food scenario related to getting sick)
  • Results: Highest disgust towards food scenarios
  • Conclusion: Nausea helps pregnant women avoid rotten food and compensates for their lowered immune system during the first trimester

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