PROP Taste Sensitivity is Related to Visceral but Not Moral Disgust
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- Herz, R.S. Chem. Percept. (2011) 4: 72. doi:10.1007/s12078-011-9089-1
Taste perception and the emotion of disgust are both processed by the anterior insular cortex. A current debate in the emotion and disgust literature is whether visceral and moral disgust responses are fundamentally the same. The purpose of the present study was therefore to test whether visceral and moral disgust would be responded to similarly as a function of taste sensitivity. Several disgust questionnaires measuring different components of visceral disgust (core, pathogen, sexual) and moral disgust were administered along with a 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) taste sensitivity test. Individuals were categorized on the basis of their responses to PROP as super-tasters, tasters, and non-tasters. PROP taster status was used as an independent variable to assess responses on the various disgust questionnaires, and PROP scores were also correlated with the disgust-dependent measures. Results showed that super-tasters were more responsive to all visceral components of emotional disgust than tasters and non-tasters, and that taste sensitivity was positively correlated with disgust responsivity. However, taste sensitivity was not related to responses concerning moral disgust in any way. Results are discussed in terms of the proposed theoretical underpinnings of emotional disgust and the physiological and neuroanatomical foundations that may mediate different forms of it.