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Cogn Emot. 2012;26(7):1208-22. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2011.645278. Epub 2012 Mar 13.

Emotions in sexual morality: testing the separate elicitors of anger and disgust.

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School of Psychology, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, UK.


Recent work suggests that negative moral judgements of sexual activities are informed by disgust and anger. A correlational study (N=62) and an experiment (N=176) examined the specific antecedents that elicit these distinct, though correlated, moral emotions. Participants in Study 1 rated their emotional reactions to, and judgements of, 10 sexual scenarios. Across scenarios, judgements of abnormality predicted disgust independent of anger, and judgements of harm/rights violation predicted anger independent of disgust. Study 2 replicated these results in an experimental design. Participants rated their emotions and judgements in response to behaviours that varied in degree of potential sexual morality violation (non-sexual, heterosexual, homosexual) and rights violation (no harm, indirect harm, direct harm). Judgement of rights violation mediated the effects of harm on anger. Judgements of abnormality, but not other antecedents proposed to elicit moral disgust, mediated the effects of sexual immorality on disgust.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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