Effects of disgust priming and disgust sensitivity on moral judgement

Bunmi O. Olatunji, Bieke David Puncochar
Published Online:
27 Jan 2015
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 51 Issue 2

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Although prior research suggests that disgust results in more severe moral judgements, the extent to which awareness of disgust cues influences moral judgements remains unclear. To address this gap in the literature, participants in this study were randomised to subliminal or conscious awareness of disgust and neutral images prior to the description and evaluation of moral transgressions. No differences were found in moral severity ratings for transgressions that were presented after neutral and disgust images in the subliminal condition. However, moral severity ratings for moderate transgressions that were presented after neutral images were significantly higher than morality ratings of transgressions presented after disgust images in the conscious condition. Subsequent analysis also revealed a significant relationship between individual differences in disgust propensity and perceived immorality of moderate transgressions, especially in the conscious condition. The finding of higher moral severity ratings for moderate transgressions presented after neutral images in the conscious condition is inconsistent with research showing that disgust uniquely influences moral judgements. This research highlights the importance of further research examining the role of methodological considerations that may moderate the influence of disgust on moral judgements.

© 2015 International Union of Psychological Science