Disgust-Related Personality Traits in Men with Olfactory Dysfunction

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Individuals differ in disgust-related personality traits, such as disgust proneness (DP: tendency to experience disgust), disgust sensitivity (DS: tendency to perceive one’s own disgust experiences as difficult to control), and self-disgust (SD: strong dislike/aversion of yourself). Olfaction is one crucial input for the disgust system. The present study investigated disgust dispositions in individuals with persistent olfactory dysfunction. We studied 16 male patients with anosmia, 20 patients with hyposmia, and 20 normosmic men, and compared DP, DS, and SD scores between the groups. Dysosmic patients reported lowered DP toward spoilage, elevated DP toward poor hygiene, and elevated SD. There were no group differences with regard to DS. We assume that difficulties of perceiving one’s own body odor and resulting challenges for personal hygiene are related to domain-specifically elevated trait disgust. Enhanced personal disgust may be related to a general social insecurity in people with olfactory malfunction. Future research should additionally use brain imaging methods to investigate associations between alterations of the disgust system and olfactory dysfunction.

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