Many people don't like feeling disgusted. However, it may be good for your health, according to a new report.
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine recently conducted a study, published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, to explore the classifications of repulsion.
To do so, they surveyed 2,500 people online. The questionnaire listed 74 potentially “disgusting” scenarios, including pus-filled skin lesions and objects covered in insects. Participants were then required to rate the strength of their displeasure on a scale from “no disgust” to “extreme disgust.”
After analyzing the responses, the scientists discovered that most people found pus-infected wounds to be the most disgusting, followed by hygiene issues like bad body odor.
With the results, they were also able to identify six categories of disgust: poor hygiene; animals/insects that bring disease; promiscuous sex; atypical appearance (body deformities as well as behavioral irregularity, such as coughing or homelessness); lesions, blisters, boils or pus; and spoiled food.
They believe their findings confirm the “parasite avoidance theory,” a concept that says humans and animals adopt behavior to help reduce the risk of infection.
"Although we knew the emotion of disgust was good for us, here we've been able to build on that, showing that disgust is structured, recognising and responding to infection threats to protect us," senior author Val Curtis said in a statement.
Researchers now hope to continue their studies to develop instruments for measuring disgust. They also want to investigate how the emotion might vary across cultures.
"Increasing our understanding of disgust like this could provide new insights into the mechanisms of disease avoidance behavior," Curtis said, "and help us develop new methods to keep our environments, fellow animals and ourselves healthy."
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