The two-stage model of disgust differentiates between core and animal-reminder (AR) disgust [Rozin P., Fallon A., 1987. A perspective on disgust. Psychological Review 94, 23-41]. This study investigates whether core and A-R disgust elicit distinct physiological reaction patterns. Further, in line with the idea that A-R disgust is critically involved in blood phobia and may explain typical phenomenology of psychopathological symptoms (e.g., dizziness), we investigated whether physiological patterns (if present) would differ specifically for A-R disgust between high and low blood-fearful participants. Therefore, high (n = 30) and low (n = 30) blood-fearful individuals engaged in guided imagery of core disgust, A-R disgust, and neutral stimuli. Overall, both disgust scripts lead to increased activity in the digestive component of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). For cardiac components, sympathetic activity decreased, whereas no parasympathetic reactivity was observed compared to the neutral script. No differences were observed in physiological reactivity between the A-R and core disgust scripts. Meanwhile, in line with the idea that disgust is involved in blood phobia, subjective symptoms of vomit and dizziness did differentiate between high and low blood-fearful participants, as subjective symptoms were most pronounced in the high blood-fearful group. Contrary to our expectations, increases in subjective symptoms were apparent for both disgust types and not specifically for A-R disgust. So, physiological reactivity appeared relatively independent of type of disgust elicitor which, in turn, may reflect a general hard-wired protective mechanism to prevent contamination with pathogens.
van Overveld, M., de Jong, P. J., & Peters, M. L. (2009). Digestive and Cardiovascular Responses to Core and Animal-Reminder Disgust. Biological Psychology, 80, 149-157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2008.08.002