Proseminar – B. Rubenking & T. Ross

Bridget Rubenking

Dynamic Disgust:

Dimensional underpinnings of responses to blood, brutality, and politics

Today, Bridget Rubenking of IU Telecom presented the preliminary findings from her dissertation research on disgust. As a topic, disgust is somewhat paradoxical–it’s an emotional response of repulsion toward noxious stimuli. Despite this, people often purposely select disgusting material as entertainment (e.g., gory movies such as Saw).

To further understand what disgusts people from a dynamic perspective, Bridget presented messages that emphasized either core disgusts (e.g., body envelope violations) or socio-moral disgust (e.g., racism). Self-reported responses indicate that socio-moral disgust is more negative and that political affiliation predicts numerous responses within this category.

Her future work will analyze the physiological responses to these messages as another indicator of disgust as an emotion.

Travis Ross

Social norms as a game mechanic?

Travis Ross, also a student from IU Telecom, gave the second talk at today’s T600. Like Bridget, he presented preliminary data on his dissertation research. Essentially, Travis investigated how social norms could act as a game mechanic. Using a custom-made game environment, he tested descritptive and injunctive norms with and without sanctions using either a selfish or cooperative prime. One star finding was that sanctioning forced groups to act cooperatively, even when that group was primed to act selfishly.

While all norms helped guide behavior, injunctive norms were stronger than descriptive and sanctions were better than no sanctions. In sum, it appears that norms can guide people toward a specific outcome.