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Tactile disgust

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posted on 2022-03-29, 02:23 authored by Supreet Saluja
Tactile objects are reported to be important elicitors of disgust. However, only two studies have assessed what makes objects disgusting to touch. The first found that softness and wetness were disgust eliciting, and the second that oily and sticky textures could also elicit disgust (Oum et al., 2011; Skolnick, 2013). As these studies manipulated only a few tactile qualities, the ability of other qualities to elicit disgust remains untested. Further, it is unclear if one’s belief about what the object is (and the disease-risk it poses) influences disgust. Thus, two questions remain unanswered about tactile disgust. First, what is the full range of tactile qualities which elicit disgust, and second, is tactile disgust influenced by belief of what the elicitor is, and the disease risk it poses? To answer these questions, 120 participants aged 17 to 42 were asked to feel a range of objects, which represented the major tactile qualities (i.e., sticky, hard, soft, oily, lumpy, viscous, wet, grainy, cold, warm), and rate how the objects felt (i.e., how sticky, hard, etc., it was), how the objects made them feel (i.e., disgust, fear and other emotions), and their disease risk belief (primarily how sick they thought the objects would make them). There were four groups, one could see the objects and the other three could not. To assess if participants’ belief about what they were touching influenced disgust, labelling was used on participants who could not see the objects. Objects were either disgust labelled, truly labelled or not labelled and participants reported what they thought they were touching. The results show sticky and wet textures are highly disgust eliciting, and viscosity, cold and lumpy also elicit disgust (but to a lesser extent). This suggests the adherence-quality of objects predicts disgust. Further, labelling had a significant impact, with the Disgust-Label group having the highest disgust and fear ratings, and belief the objects would make them sick. Fear and sickness belief were powerful predictors of tactile disgust and explained the increased disgust in the Disgust-Label group. The results argue for a comprehensive model oftactile disgust, which takes into account sensory-level features and disease-risk beliefs.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. Method -- 3. Data analysis approach -- 4. Results -- 5. Discussion -- References -- Appendices.


Bibliography: pages 63-79 Empirical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Dick Stevenson


Copyright Supreet Saluja 2018. Copyright disclaimer:




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