Facial attractiveness is an important part of our initial judgments of people and in our ability to determine their compatibility as a mating partner. Just as mating is evolutionarily important, the emotion disgust is one of the most evolutionarily beneficial emotions as it helps keep us away from poisonous and possibly infectious substances or foods. We instinctively avoid people with facial scars and other facial deformities because these are seen as a sign of illness or generally poor well-being. Facial attraction is one component of how we choose a mate. The current experiment examined whether or not being disgusted created an avoidance behavior, in the form of lower attractiveness scores, of individuals who are not scarred similar to our desire to avoid people with scars. Disgust was induced by showing participants a series of disgusting photos prior to making attractiveness ratings of potential mating targets. It was found that individuals who were disgusted did not rate photos significantly different than participants who received a neutral mood induction or a hygienic mood induction. Possible explanations for this finding such as the hygienic induction making participants more aware of pathogens instead of feeling clean are discussed. Future research opportunities into areas like facial surgery are also discussed.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Interpersonal attraction--Research; Aversion--Research; Face--Social aspects; Face perception
Experimental Psychology (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
Phelan, Nicholas, "How Disgust Affects Romantic Attraction: How our Moods Affect our Judgments of Attractiveness" (2014). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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