Moral Disgust Responds to Bad Character

I will argue that social emotions, specifically shame, guilt, disgust and anger, serve the purpose of tracking the social value of other people (anger, disgust) and of tracking how other people see the social value of the self (guilt, shame). Moreover, anger and guilt seem adapted to track momentary social value focused on acts, while disgust and shame track chronic social value focused on a person’s enduring character. I will present studies in press or under review from our lab that demonstrate how disgust has more to do with perceived moral character than anger; how disgust also communicates moral character more strongly than anger; and how shame functions to represent the general image that many people have of us, while guilt functions to represent temporary judgments of acts that close people form of us.