Disgust's role in food preferences and how it relates to morality, group identity

von Jason A. Clark PhD, FB 08, Institut f. Kognitionswissenschaften

My primary area of research has been the evolution of human emotions, and in the last three years I have focused on the evolution of disgust. While we usually focus on positive aspects of food and eating, disgust is the “dark side” of cuisine and does as much to shape our food choices and practices as do our more positive emotions towards food. Research on disgust is undergoing a major resurgence, and has been connected to a wide variety of concerns where its role was previously unrecognized. In this talk I will give a brief account of disgust’s evolution and how it has come to play such a uniquely important and broad role in human life. This will include discussion of disgust’s role in the following areas: culinary adaptations to pathogen threats, developmental plasticity of food aversions, the effects of disease threat on personality and social structures, obesity, vegetarianism, eating disorders, the “hygiene hypothesis”, waste management, and morality and aesthetics.




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