Individual Differences in Disgust Sensitivity: Comparisons and Evaluations of Paper-and-Pencil versus Behavioral Measures
Sixty-eight undergraduate students experienced 32 hands-on tasks designed to provide a behavioral validation for the paper-and-pencil Disgust Scale, which the students had completed 2 months before. Tasks assessed participant-determined degree of exposure (looking at, picking up, touching, and in some cases eating) to objects such as a cockroach, cremated ashes, and a freshly killed pig's head and to disgusting video clips (seconds watching). These tasks elicited strong negative affect in a way that was ethical and not very disturbing to participants; they may be useful for future laboratory study of emotion. Participants also experienced nondisgusting control tasks, such as imitating a chicken or holding one's hand in ice-water. Analysis of task intercorrelations indicated four factors: food-related disgust, body-violation-and-death-related disgust, compliance motivation, and embarrassability. Only the two disgust factors correlated significantly with the paper-and-pencil Disgust Scale; a combination of the two correlated .58 with Disgust Scale scores obtained months before the laboratory assessment and correlated .71 with scores obtained immediately after this assessment. Most generally, these results are a reminder that there is no gold standard for personality assessment. As with paper-and-pencil measures, behavioral measures require getting beyond face validity to assess threats to validity from factors such as embarrassment and compliance motivation.