How does listening to the sound of vomiting affect moral judgements?

By Seriously Science | May 3, 2013 1:04 pm

Photo: flickr/Jsome1

There have been a number of (pretty hilarious) studies focusing on the science of disgust — for example, being horny apparently makes everything seem less disgusting. Here, the researchers wanted to test the different effects of anger and disgust on people’s moral judgements of several vignettes, one of which involved plane crash survivors eating a dead young boy to stay alive. (Science!) To find out how the researchers elicited anger and disgust in their subjects, read on below…

Sound morality: Irritating and icky noises amplify judgments in divergent moral domains.

“Theoretical models and correlational research suggest that anger and disgust play different roles in moral judgment. Anger is theorized to underlie reactions to crimes against persons, such as battery and unfairness, and disgust is theorized to underlie reactions to crimes against nature, such as sexual transgressions and cannibalism. To date, however, it has not been shown that induction of these two emotions has divergent effects. In this experiment we show divergent effects of anger and disgust. We use sounds to elicit anger and disgust, and participants are then asked to consider moral vignettes. As compared to disgust and control condition, anger increases severity of judgments about crimes against persons, and disgust increases severity of judgments about crimes against nature, but not conversely.”

Bonus quote from the materials and methods:
“We induced anger with “noise music,” a genre that uses electric and acoustic instruments to create harsh, jarring, and dissonant sounds. The track we used was the title song from Inner Mind Mystique, composed by Yamazaki “Maso” Takushi (Takushi, 1996). Disgust was induced with the sound of an emetic event (a person vomiting).”

Related content:
NCBI ROFL: The science of disgusting family dinners.
NCBI ROFL: Gross gods and icky atheism: Disgust responses to rejected religious beliefs.
NCBI ROFL: Being horny makes everything seem less disgusting.


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Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
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