Disgust elevates core body temperature and up-regulates certain oral immune markers

Richard J. Stevenson*, Deborah Hodgson, Megan J. Oaten, Mahta Moussavi, Rebekah Langberg, Trevor I. Case, Javad Barouei

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    40 Citations (Scopus)


    Recent findings suggest that disgust can activate particular aspects of the immune system. In this study we examine whether disgust can also elevate core body temperature (BT), a further feature of an immune response to disease. In addition, we also examined whether food based disgust - a core eliciting stimulus - may be a more potent immune stimulus than non-food based disgust. Healthy males were randomly assigned to view one of four sets of images - food disgust, non-food disgust, food control and negative emotion control. Measures of BT, salivary immune and related markers, and self-report data, were collected before, and at two time points after image viewing. Disgust elevated BT relative to the negative emotion control condition, as did food images. Different mechanisms appeared to account for these effects on BT, with higher initial levels of Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF-a) and disgust, predictive of BT increases in the disgust conditions. Disgust also increased TNF-a, and albumin levels, relative to the control conditions. Type of disgust exerted little effect. These findings further support the idea that disgust impacts upon immune function, and that disgust serves primarily a disease avoidance function.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1160-1168
    Number of pages9
    JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


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