The Relationship Between Sociomoral Disgust and Physical Disgust: Investigation of Facial Affect in Response to Purity and Fairness Violations Open Access

Uh, Stepheni (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/8049g573w?locale=en
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Abstract

There has been much recent speculation regarding the relationship between sociomoral disgust, which refers to disgust elicited by moral violations, and the type of disgust elicited by physical stimuli such a rotten food. This study investigated whether there were similar facial expressions of disgust elicited by two types of moral transgressions and physically disgusting behaviors. This study also explored whether facial muscle activity would reflect spontaneous person affect knowledge retrieval after participants were presented with minimal information regarding a person's face and behavior. The two types of moral transgressions were fairness and purity moral transgressions, which are two out of the five moral foundations (purity, fairness, harm, authority, ingroup) in the Moral Foundations Theory (Haidt and Joseph, 2004). Facial muscle activity related to disgust (levator labii) and anger as well as overall negative affect (corrugator supercilii) was recorded while participants associated faces with behavioral statements. The same facial muscle activity was also recorded while participants were shown faces that were previously associated with behavioral statements in a later task. Facial disgust reactions were similar in response to physically disgusting behaviors as well as purity transgressions, but fairness transgressions did not elicit significant facial reactions. Faces that had been previously associated with moral transgressions, physically disgusting, or neutral behaviors also did not evoke facial disgust, showing no transfer of person affective trait knowledge, contrary to previous neuroimaging findings (Todorov et al., 2007). These results suggest that purity vs. fairness transgressions differentially elicit facial disgust reactions, with only purity transgressions eliciting facial disgust activity. These results suggest that these two domains of moral transgressions differ in their similarity to the processing of physical disgust stimuli, consistent with theoretical views that posit that only some moral violations have a basis in the basic emotion of disgust.

Table of Contents

Introduction...1
Objectives...10
Methods...11
Participants...11
Stimuli...11
Procedures...12
Encoding...12
Test...13
Recall...14
Ratings...15
Psychophysiological Analyses...15
Statistical Analyses...16
Results...17
EMG Activity Results...17
Encoding Phase...18
Figure 1. Change in EMG activity during Encoding...20
Figure 2. EMG activity for purity behaviors...21
Test Phase...21
Figure 3. Change in EMG activity during Test...23
Behavioral Results...24
Person Judgments: Categorization...24
Ratings...24
Discussion...26
Limitations...29
Significance and Future Directions...30
Additional Comments: Legal and Social Implications of Disgust...32
Conclusion...35
Appendix 1...37
Appendix 2...41
References...42

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