Repulsed by violence: Disgust sensitivity buffers trait, behavioral, and daily aggression

Richard S. Pond, C. Nathan DeWall, Nathaniel M. Lambert, Timothy Deckman, Ian M. Bonser, Frank D. Fincham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Many models of aggression include negatively valenced emotions as common elicitors of aggressive behavior. Yet, the motivational direction of these emotions is not taken into account. The current work explored whether sensitivity to a negative emotion associated with behavioral avoidance-disgust-will predict lower levels of aggression. Five studies tested the hypothesis that disgust sensitivity predicts less aggression. In Study 1 (N = 92), disgust sensitivity predicted less trait physical and verbal aggression. In Study 2 (N = 268), participants high in disgust sensitivity were less likely to behave aggressively towards a stranger on a reaction-time task. In Study 3 (N = 51), disgust sensitivity was associated with less intimate partner violence inclinations. Study 4 (N = 247) replicated this effect longitudinally. In Study 5 (N = 166), each domain of disgust (i.e., moral, sexual, and pathogen disgust) had a buffering effect on daily aggression when daily experiences activated those specific domains. These results highlight the usefulness of considering the motivational direction of an emotion when examining its influence on aggression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-188
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Aggression
  • Avoidance
  • Disgust sensitivity
  • Emotion
  • Individual differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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