Chapter 10: Disgust

Vocal Changes

  Some vocal sounds we make when disgusted would include vomiting, gagging, and saying “yuck!”


In the basic emotions/social constructivist chapter, we discussed a study by Sauter et al. (2010) in which both Himba and European English participants matched a disgust story to the sound of a vomiting/retching at beyond chance levels. This occurred when participants listened to their own and the other participants’ vocal sounds. The emotional story for disgust was “Someone has just eaten rotten food and feels very disgusted” (Sauter et al., 2010, online supplemental material).  Note that the term disgust is in the actual story, thus presenting a confound. In Cordaro et al.’s (2016) similar vocal change study, retching/vomiting was matched to the disgust story 53% (for Bhutan) to 100% of the time (with chance set at 25%). These findings suggest that vomiting is a universal vocal change of disgust.  In one last study by Gendron, Barrett and colleagues (2014a), which we covered earlier, Himba and Boston participants heard  “ewww” and were asked to free-label the emotion.  About 59% of the Boston participants and none of the Himba participants labeled the sound as disgust.  Most Himba did not provide an emotion label for the growl/yell.  For those who did provide an emotion label, the emotion most often stated for the disgust was amusement.  This study at least suggests that “ewww” is not universally linked to disgust. But, work should still test other sounds such as retching or “yuck.”


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