Women’s disgust adaptations

Diana Santos Fleischman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingOther chapter contribution


It is well accepted that disgust is an emotion whose main function is to motivate away from cues of disease or potential contamination. Although this adaptive problem is one that both men and women face, women tend to have heightened disgust sensitivity and higher frequency of psychopathologies like obsessive-compulsive disorder that have heightened disgust sensitivity as a core symptom. Women have faced unique selection pressures such as pregnancy, changes in immunity over the menstrual cycle, higher obligate parental investment, and heavier disease burden from sexually transmitted infection that have contributed to their increased disgust sensitivity compared to men. First, this chapter outlines the development of a theoretical framework around the evolution and function of disgust. Next, it reviews sex differences in disgust sensitivity as well as the modulation of disgust sensitivity. Finally, sexual disgust and recent work investigating how disgust and sexual arousal reciprocally influence one another are reviewed including the contribution of disgust to sexual disorders and expression.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEvolutionary perspectives on human sexual psychology and behavior
EditorsViviana A. Weekes-Shackelford, Todd K. Shackleford
Place of PublicationNew York
ISBN (Electronic)9781493903146
ISBN (Print)9781493903139
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameEvolutionary psychology
ISSN (Print)2197-9898
ISSN (Electronic)2197-9901


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