Tactile disgust: post-contact can be more disgusting than contact

Supreet Saluja*, Richard J. Stevenson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Several studies have examined if disgust can be evoked by contacting an object—yet none have examined if reported disgust changes when the hand leaves the object. This is surprising given that post-contact tactile disgust is probably a driver of hand hygiene. We examined contact and post-contact tactile disgust and its sensory origins. Participants were asked to touch several objects, making sensory, disgust, and desire-to-handwash evaluations. These ratings were made at three stages-of-contact: object-contact (just touch), post-contact (just touch), and visual post-contact (touch, vision). Disgust was typically highest at post-contact (when the hand left the object). Stickiness and wetness were uniquely predictive of object-contact disgust. Only stickiness drove post-contact disgust, and only wetness visual post-contact disgust. Hand-washing desire was primarily driven by quantity of residue perceived on the hand. These findings suggest that tactile disgust is a multisensory and iterative process relating to object- and residue-adhesiveness.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)652–665
    Number of pages14
    JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
    Issue number4
    Early online date24 Aug 2021
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


    • tactile
    • disgust
    • post-contact
    • hand washing desire
    • visual texture


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