Cognitive and Personality Correlates of Trait Disgust and Their Relationship to Condemnation of Nonpurity Moral Transgressions

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Abstract

Past research has found that individuals who are more sensitive to physically disgusting stimuli also condemn moral transgressions more harshly. However, there is debate about whether this condemnation includes transgressions that do not involve impure behaviors. We present a meta-analysis of 6 studies (N = 1082) which suggests that trait disgust is associated with condemnation of nonpurity transgressions. This relationship was primarily explained by sensitivity toward the very core disgust stimuli that those transgressions lack. We next tested whether this relationship might be mediated by a third variable. We found that trait core disgust was associated with higher orderliness, lower deviance sensitivity, and preference for intuitive thinking; these variables also correlated with moral condemnation. Trait disgust was also associated with lower generalized social trust, but trust was not correlated with moral condemnation. Neither trait disgust nor moral condemnation were associated with ethnocentrism. Further, none of these variables mediated the relationship between trait disgust and condemnation. Taken together, our results support a role for trait disgust in moral judgments outside of the purity domain, but leave unexplained its association with condemnation of nonpurity transgressions.

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