One of the things that we emphasised in our analysis of basic emotions presented in Chapter 5 was the importance of two different routes to emotion. In relation to disgust, the direct access route will be most familiar in the associative reactions to food and smell, which presumably have an innate basis such as shown in the neonate's disgust reaction to bitter tastes. However, a whole range of foods, objects, and smells soon come to elicit associatively based disgust reactions through the direct access route. To give a personal example, one of us (MP) was determined to eat an oyster for the first time ever. However, try as hard as I might, I was completely unable to overcome the automatic retching reaction that the combination of taste and texture evoked. Nor have I tried to swallow one since!
The development of taste aversions through associative learning has of course long provided a challenge to the traditional laws of learning enumerated by Pavlov and Skinner (e.g., Dickinson, 1987). Whereas Pavlovian and Skinnerian conditioning are based on the temporal contiguity of stimulus and response, so-called long-delay conditioning does not require such contiguity but may span several hours (e.g., Revusky & Garcia, 1970). It seems likely therefore that we are witnessing different patterns of learning in relation to the different basic emotions implicated—that is, work on Pavlovian and Skinnerian conditioning primarily focused on the basic emotions of happiness and fear (in the form of reward and punishment), whereas taste aversions are based on disgust. More specifically, Pavlov's dogs and Skinner's pigeons were typically either in a state of hunger and showed happiness at the delivery of dinner, or were in a constant state of anxiety in anticipation of the next aversive experience. In contrast, Revusky's rats were nauseous because of something the experimenter had cooked up several hours before. We might speculate therefore that well-designed studies that examine learning in the context of different basic emotions may find significantly different learning patterns both for the temporal relationships between the elements and for the content of the elements themselves— thus, where cognitive biases have been studied in relation to fear and sadness important differences appear (see Chapters 6 and 7). For example, in a study of people with fear of spiders, Smits, Telch, and Randall (2002) repeatedly measured fear and disgust levels before, during, and after 30 minutes of exposure to a live tarantula. They found that spider-fearful individuals showed faster reductions in self-reported fear than in self-reported disgust, and that the two response systems were largely independent of each other. It seems also that the inhibition of such associative reactions requires effort; thus, von Hippel and Gonsalkorale (2005) found that participants presented with the request to eat a chicken foot were more likely to emit associatively driven disgust responses such as "That is bloody revolting!" if they had a concurrent secondary task of remembering a digit load.
The associative reactions shown in Figure 9.1, however, are not limited to foodstuffs, but may happen at the sight of a tramp, to things that the cat brought in, and at the memory of what one did at that drunken New Year's Eve party. It is in fact this last category, the disgust-based reactions to the self, that provides a potential starting point for much of the pathology in the emotional disorders. That is, the innate taste-based disgust reaction may be turned on the developing self especially, as we will show, when factors such as culture, religion, and the views of significant others combine to that effect. The chronic activation of this self-disgust may provide one of the bases of mood disorders such as that found in depression in which the automatic processing of material is biased in a negative way (e.g., Haaga et al., 1991; see Chapter 7).
The second route shown in Figure 9.1—that is, the interpretive-appraisal route to disgust and disgust-based complex emotions such as guilt, shame, and embarrass-
APPRAISAL OF DISGUST
DIRECT GENERATION OF DISGUST
Figure 9.1 Two routes to disgust within the SPAARS approach.
ment (see next section)—is perhaps most obvious when one subsequently reinterprets or reappraises one's own or another's actions. Again to give an example, having moved house some time before, I (MP) was unable to find a particular object and became convinced that one of the removal men had taken it. Whenever I thought about this object I became angry with the removal men and even mentioned the presumed theft to a number of others. Imagine my shame, however, when the object turned up and it had been my fault all along for not having unpacked properly! In this case, my appraisal that I had been wronged in some way and consequent feelings of anger turned to feelings of shame when I realised that I had falsely accused the removals firm. This example emphasises how reappraisal of an event can take place over considerable time periods. In more extreme cases, such reappraisals may form one of the cornerstones of therapy (see Chapter 11) in which the existence of apparently contradictory emotions or the clear inhibition of emotion may signal that the interpretive-appraisal route is being used for one emotion but a direct access route exists for another. For example, the physically abusive parent may attempt to inhibit the abused child's anger by statements such as "I'm doing this because I love you" or "I'm doing this for your own benefit": the child's "joy" at such loving attention may be tempered by anger because of the pain inflicted by physical abuse. However, the repeated experience of contradictory parental messages has long been considered by theorists such as Bateson, Jackson, Haley, and Weakland (1956), Bowlby (1973) and others to be an important developmental influence on psychopathology. One of the roles of therapy may therefore include the re-examination of assumptions such as necessarily being loved by one's parents.
John was the adopted son of a highly successful barrister. However, nothing he ever did was good enough for either of his parents. He had for example wanted to be a teacher, but his father's dismissal of this profession with "Those that can't do, teach" forever echoed in his mind. When John came into therapy he loathed himself and had been unable to work for over a year. Needless to say, he worshipped his father.
For the child, completely dependent on his or her parents, it may be preferable to believe in being loved by one's parents at the price of hating oneself. However, the adult who is no longer dependent on his or her parents may need to reinterpret such relationships with all the consequent emotions that this process entails.
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