New research carried out by psychologists at the University of Kent has shown for the first time that a decision to express disgust or anger depends on the motives a person seeks to communicate.
Previous studies have suggested that the emotion of disgust originally evolved to protect people from infectious disease; people don’t generally eat rotten meat, crawling with maggots, because they feel disgusted by the prospect.
Empathy is typically seen as eliciting warmth and compassion—a generally positive state that makes people do good things to others. However, empathy may also motivate aggression on behalf of the vulnerable other. Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo, examined whether assessed or elicited empathy would lead to situation-specific aggression on behalf of another person, and to explore the potential role of two neurohormones in explaining a connection between empathy and aggression. The study is published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.