The Effects of Mortality Salience on Disgust Sensitivity Among University Students, Older Adults, and Mortuary Students

Jonathan F. Bassett1, *, Michael E. Sonntag2
1 Department of Psychology, Lander University, USA
2 University of Maine at Presque Isle, USA

Article Metrics

CrossRef Citations:
Total Statistics:

Full-Text HTML Views: 1071
Abstract HTML Views: 2174
PDF Downloads: 991
Total Views/Downloads: 4236
Unique Statistics:

Full-Text HTML Views: 597
Abstract HTML Views: 1236
PDF Downloads: 704
Total Views/Downloads: 2537

Creative Commons License
© 2009 Bassett and Sonntag.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Psychology, Lander University, 320 Stanley Ave, Greenwood, SC 29649, USA; Tel: (864) 388-8740; E-mail:


The present study tested the Terror Management perspective on disgust by examining the effects of mortality salience on disgust sensitivity among 137 university students, 48 older adults, and 44 mortuary students preparing for a career in the funeral service industry. Participants were randomly assigned to a mortality salience, uncertainty salience, or television salience induction. Following a delay, participants completed the core disgust and contamination disgust subscales of the Disgust Scale Revised. University students reported more core disgust than did older adults and mortuary students. Women reported more core and contamination disgust than did men. Mortality salience led to increased disgust sensitivity among all three groups but only on a small number of items related to animals. The results suggest a limited role of terror management defenses in the experience of disgust in response to stimuli that remind people of their animal nature.

Keywords: Terror Management Theory, Disgust Sensitivity, Mortality Salience.