What do rotting food, a pus-filled wound, and risky sex have in common? People find them disgusting, and women are more disgusted by them than men.
That’s the conclusion of a new study in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, which evaluated the disgust level of more than 2,500 men and women (66% of participants were female) toward various stomach-lurching scenarios.
The scenarios ran the gamut from biting into a mealy apple to seeing mites in a childs hair. Those that focused on sex included finding out that your partner once paid for sex, discovering during foreplay that your partner had poor genital hygiene, and hooking up with someone shortly after meeting them for the first time. Most notably, there were significant differences in how grossed out men and women viewed the sex-related situations.
Women were more disgusted by the sexual scenarios perhaps because females have evolved over time to avoid situations that pose a disease threat to themselves or their children. It may also have to do with the fact that men take more risks in general, according to the study.