Sunday, March 20, 2011

Embodied Cognition and Conservative Jurors

A Bad Taste in the Mouth

Gustatory Disgust Influences Moral Judgment

  1. Kendall J. Eskine1,2,
  2. Natalie A. Kacinik1,2 and
  3. Jesse J. Prinz1

+Author Affiliations

  1. 1The Graduate Center, City University of New York
  2. 2Brooklyn College, City University of New York
  1. Kendall J. Eskine, Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, 2900 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11210


Can sweet-tasting substances trigger kind, favorable judgments about other people? What about substances that are disgusting and bitter? Various studies have linked physical disgust to moral disgust, but despite the rich and sometimes striking findings these studies have yielded, no research has explored morality in conjunction with taste, which can vary greatly and may differentially affect cognition. The research reported here tested the effects of taste perception on moral judgments. After consuming a sweet beverage, a bitter beverage, or water, participants rated a variety of moral transgressions. Results showed that taste perception significantly affected moral judgments, such that physical disgust (induced via a bitter taste) elicited feelings of moral disgust. Further, this effect was more pronounced in participants with politically conservative views than in participants with politically liberal views. Taken together, these differential findings suggest that embodied gustatory experiences may affect moral processing more than previously thought.

Can trial lawyers use taste metaphors to help politically conservative jurors understand the enormity of the harm the defendant caused? This was a bitter pill to swallow, for example, as a description of the plaintiff journey. This left a really bad taste etc.