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Disgust hits headlines

College Fellow and experimental social psychologist, Dr Simon Schnall, has been quoted in The Guardian (5 June 2018) about an in press study on disgust and risk perception.

Dr Schnall's comments were included in coverage of a paper from Professor Val Curtis of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which reveals six common types of disgust that protect us from disease. 

The research from Dr Schnall, Simon Karg and Aaron Wiener-Blotner from the University of Cambridge Department of Psychology - Disgust Sensitivity is Associated with Heightened Risk Perception - is due to be published in the Journal of Risk Research. It finds that disgust sensitivity is associated with a broad range of risk including recreational, social, ethical, financial, and health and safety risks. Therefore, disgust may be part of a general risk aversion mechanism aimed at guiding behavior in uncertain situations.

Commenting in The Guardian article, Dr Schnall states: "We like to think of it as potentially existential risk, dangerous situations where one needs to be careful.We find individual difference [in] disgust sensitivity more broadly correlates with risk perception.

"Even more remote is social risk – such as voicing your opinion that goes against everyone else’s, or speaking with your superiors on an unpopular topic. Basically, putting yourself in social situations that could be perceived as uncomfortable, people who are high on disgust sensitivity find that to be more risky."