Disgust sensitivity relates to moral foundations independent of political ideology

Florian van Leeuwen, Amber Dukes, Joshua M. Tybur, Justin H. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Moral judgments seem related to the emotion disgust. Evolutionary considerationsmight illuminate the psychological processes underlying this relation. Several studieshave noted that individuals who are more disgust sensitive condemn moral violationsmore strongly. However, this association could result from both disgust sensitivity andmoral judgment being correlated with political ideology. To clarify the relationshipbetween disgust sensitivity and moral judgment, we analyzed data from multiplepublished and unpublished datasets that included the Three-Domain Disgust Scale, theMoral Foundations Questionnaire, and a measure of ideology (total N ± 2,478). Resultsshowed that associations between disgust sensitivity and moral judgment remainedwhen controlling for ideology. Each of the 3 types of disgust sensitivity uniquelypredicted at least 1 of the 5 moral foundations. Moral disgust predicted scores for allmoral foundations (largest effect for fairness/reciprocity). Sexual disgust predictedscores for all moral foundations except fairness/reciprocity (largest effect for purity/sanctity). Pathogen disgust had small predictive effects for ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. All effects were positive (i.e., higher levels of disgustsensitivity were associated with greater moral foundation endorsement). These findingssuggest specific relations between disgust sensitivity and moral judgment that are notexplained by ideology, shedding further light on the functions of disgust and morality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-98
Number of pages7
JournalEvolutionary Behavioral Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Conservatism
  • Disgust
  • Moral Foundations Questionnaire
  • Moral judgment
  • Political ideology
  • Three-Domain Disgust Scale


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