Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

What's Disgusting, Why, and What Does It Matter?

Michael Owen Jones
Journal of Folklore Research
Vol. 37, No. 1 (Jan. - Apr., 2000), pp. 53-71
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3814665
Page Count: 19
  • Read Online (Free)
  • Download ($15.00)
  • Subscribe ($19.50)
  • Cite this Item
If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
What's Disgusting, Why, and What Does It Matter?
Preview not available

Abstract

Little attention has been paid to digust, although efforts to understand why people eat what they do would benefit from knowing what people don't eat; furthermore, in this article I argue that the idea of "disgust" has moral implications too. Whether or not disgust is universal in the human species remains to be determined. At least in the experience of Euro-Americans, disgust appears to consist of feelings of revulsion that constitute a distinct emotion expressed through a characteristic facial expression and the action of distancing oneself from the offensive object. In this regard, disgust differs from simple dislike or distaste-and while it leads to aversion, it is not the same as aversive learning or bait shyness. Most commentators contend that animals and the waste products associated with them are the primary disgust objects, yet rotting plants and their sensory qualities often evoke disgust. People sometimes purposefully participate in loathsome behavior out of desperation, for sensationalism, or to boast, engage in one-up-manship, mark identity, or take part in the forbidden, which has the power to allure. Why we have the disgust response remains uncertain. It may result from the customs and concerns surrounding toilet training, the bodily changes experienced in puberty, and the development in childhood of the concept of "contagion" and fears of contamination. The disgust response resembles a "negative aesthetic experience," has led to concerns over etiquette and manners, and invokes moral sentiments resulting in the segregation of people on the basis of what they eat and how they eat these things.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[53]
    [53]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
54
    54
  • Thumbnail: Page 
55
    55
  • Thumbnail: Page 
56
    56
  • Thumbnail: Page 
57
    57
  • Thumbnail: Page 
58
    58
  • Thumbnail: Page 
59
    59
  • Thumbnail: Page 
60
    60
  • Thumbnail: Page 
61
    61
  • Thumbnail: Page 
62
    62
  • Thumbnail: Page 
63
    63
  • Thumbnail: Page 
64
    64
  • Thumbnail: Page 
65
    65
  • Thumbnail: Page 
66
    66
  • Thumbnail: Page 
67
    67
  • Thumbnail: Page 
68
    68
  • Thumbnail: Page 
69
    69
  • Thumbnail: Page 
70
    70
  • Thumbnail: Page 
71
    71