Disgust originated to prevent us from eating poisonous food, but this simple safety mechanism has since evolved into a uniquely human emotion that dictates how we treat others, shapes our cultural norms, and even has implications for our mental and physical health. That's Disgusting illuminates the science behind disgust, tackling such colorful topics as cannibalism, humor, and pornography to address larger questions: Why do sources of disgust vary among people and societies? Where does disgust come from in our brain and what deeper fears does it reflect? How does disgust influence our individual personalities, our daily lives, and our values? It turns out that disgust underlies more than we realize, from political ideologies to the lure of horror movies. Drawing on surprising research in psychology and evolutionary biology, That's Disgusting shows us that disgust mirrors human nature and, as a result, is as complex and varied as we are.
Rachel Herz is a psychologist specializing in smell and emotion. She teaches at Brown University, is a professional consultant, and serves as an expert witness in court cases. The author of The Scent of Desire, she lives in Rhode Island.