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Science. 2009 Feb 27;323(5918):1222-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1165565.

In bad taste: evidence for the oral origins of moral disgust.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G3, Canada. hanah@aclab.ca

Abstract

In common parlance, moral transgressions "leave a bad taste in the mouth." This metaphor implies a link between moral disgust and more primitive forms of disgust related to toxicity and disease, yet convincing evidence for this relationship is still lacking. We tested directly the primitive oral origins of moral disgust by searching for similarity in the facial motor activity evoked by gustatory distaste (elicited by unpleasant tastes), basic disgust (elicited by photographs of contaminants), and moral disgust (elicited by unfair treatment in an economic game). We found that all three states evoked activation of the levator labii muscle region of the face, characteristic of an oralnasal rejection response. These results suggest that immorality elicits the same disgust as disease vectors and bad tastes.

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PMID:
19251631
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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