Image source Sabotage Times
What grosses you out? Seems like an innocuous enough question, and one that elicits pretty straightforward answers. But a deeper look into the psychology of revulsion reveals that many factors determine what grosses us out, largely stemming from our cultural background. NPR recently interviewed Rachel Herz, author of That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion, who tackles the origins of disgust and addresses why sources of disgust vary among people and societies.
A standout example: cheese. Though a staple of the western diet, in some cultures cheese is viewed as the equivalent of cow excrement. Well, if you are what you eat, then I must be full of shit — and that doesn’t gross me out in the slightest. But here are a few things that do:
- Hair in my food
- Other people’s bare feet anywhere near my clothes
- People wearing shoes in my bedroom or putting shoes on upholstery, countertops, into purses sans protective bag, etc.
- Burping in the same vicinity as food or drink
- Dirty sponges
I could continue or investigate the underlying significance of these aversions, but I think there are some pretty common threads here.
So, what kicks your gag reflex into high gear?
Posted by Abby