Disgust Sensitivity Is Primarily Associated With Purity-Based Moral Judgments

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Abstract

Individual differences in disgust sensitivity are associated with a range of judgments and attitudes related to the moral domain. Some perspectives suggest that the association between disgust sensitivity and moral judgments will be equally strong across all moral domains (i.e., purity, authority, loyalty, care, fairness, and liberty). Other perspectives predict that disgust sensitivity is primarily associated with judgments of specific moral domains (e.g., primarily purity). However, no study has systematically tested if disgust sensitivity is associated with moral judgments of the purity domain specifically, more generally to moral judgments of the binding moral domains, or to moral judgments of all of the moral domains equally. Across 5 studies (total N = 1,104), we find consistent evidence for the notion that disgust sensitivity relates more strongly to moral condemnation of purity-based transgressions (meta-analytic r = .40) than to moral condemnation of transgressions of any of the other domains (range meta-analytic rs: .07–.27). Our findings are in line with predictions from Moral Foundations Theory, which predicts that personality characteristics like disgust sensitivity make people more sensitive to a certain set of moral issues.

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