It protects us from pathogens and other kinds of infections: A Study
Women experience disgust more frequently than men due to fundamental evolutionary distinction, a new study has found. Researchers have also found though the feeling of disgust can make us feel sick to our stomach, this unpleasant emotion is a good thing.
“Disgust evolved to protect us from disease in our ancient past. The disgust response today, may or may not, be a good guide to what makes us sick today,” said Val Curtis, lead author of the study and a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. He said thses intense feelings are an evolutionary response to protect us from pathogens and other kinds of infectitious threats. Researchers surveyed 2500 people online asking them to rate their levels of disgust at 75 potential scenarios. They subsequently identified six common categories of disgust and found that women reacted to each of these with greater levels of disgust than men.
These included scenarios related to poor hygiene, such as body odour and un-flushed toilets; animal contamination; out-of-date food and risky sexual behavious; atypical appearance like infection cues in other people, including abnormal body shape; lesions; stimuli related to signs of infection on the body surface such as blisters, boils or pus.
Out of the six common categories, pus-releasing wounds was deemed the most disgusting, with lack of hygiene following closely. The categories women in the study found most disgusting were risky sexual behaviour and animals carrying disease.
For the disparity in terms of gender, Curtis explained that this boils down to women doing better in reproductive terms when they avoid scenarios that may threaten them or their children with disease.
Published in the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions B Journal.
Source: Times of India, June 5, 2018, in Times Trends