The role of disgust in male sexual decision-making

Megan Oaten*, Richard J. Stevenson, Caley Tapp, Trevor I. Case, Allie Cousins

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)
    47 Downloads (Pure)


    Sexual arousal is known to increase risky behaviors, such as having unprotected sex. This may in part relate to the emotion of disgust, which normally serves a disease avoidant function, and is suppressed by sexual arousal. In this report we examine disgust's role in sexual decision-making. Male participants received two study packets that were to be completed at home across two different time-points. Participants were asked to complete one packet in a sexually aroused state and the other in a non-aroused state. Participants were asked to rate: (1) arousal, (2) disgust, (3) willingness for sex, and (4) disease risk toward a range of female targets, which varied in level of potential disease risk (sex-worker vs. non sex-worker) and attractiveness. A measure of trait disgust was also included along with other related scales. Sexual arousal was associated with reduced disgust and reduced judgments of disease risk for all targets-these latter two variables being correlated-and with enhanced willingness to have sex with all of the depicted persons. Willingness to have sex when aroused (in contrast to non-aroused) was predicted by disease risk judgments and trait disgust, suggesting both direct (state) and indirect (trait) effects of disgust on sexual decision-making.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number2602
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    JournalFrontiers in Psychology
    Issue numberJAN
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • disgust
    • disease
    • sexual arousal
    • contamination
    • decision making


    Dive into the research topics of 'The role of disgust in male sexual decision-making'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this