[UCP Books]: Don't Look, Don't Touch, Don't Eat: The Science Behind Revulsion

“Gross! Yuck! Ew! The psychology of disgust has turned into one of the hottest topics in the human sciences. It’s tied in surprising ways to health, nutrition, sex, evolution, even religion and morality. Curtis, one of the deepest thinkers and cleverest researchers on this part of human nature, turns revulsion into fascination.” 

Steven Pinker

The Science Behind Revulsion
Valerie Curtis


Publication date: October 15, 2013 ISBN-13: 978-0-226-13133-7
International publication date: November 4, 2013   Cloth $25.00

The season is upon us when sneezing, coughing, and graphic throat-clearing become the day-to-day background noise in every workplace. And we tend to move as far—and as quickly—away from the source of these bodily eruptions as possible. These reactions are universal and instinctual, and although there are cultural and individual variations, by and large we are all disgusted by the same things.
In Don’t Look, Don’t Touch, Don’t Eat, Valerie Curtis builds a strong case for disgust as a “shadow emotion”—less familiar than love or sadness, it nevertheless affects our day-to-day lives. Curtis traces the evolutionary role of disgust in disease prevention and hygiene, but also shows that it is much more than a biological mechanism. Human social norms, from good manners to moral behavior, are deeply rooted in our sense of disgust. The disgust reaction informs both our political opinions and our darkest tendencies, such as misogyny and racism. Through a deeper understanding of disgust, Curtis argues, we can take this ubiquitous human emotion and direct it towards useful ends, from combating prejudice to reducing disease in the poorest parts of the world by raising standards of hygiene.
Valerie Curtis is director of the Hygiene Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is also the founder of Global Handwashing Day, which is October 15. She is available for interviews. Please contact Carrie Olivia Adams at (773) 702-4216 or cadams@press.uchicago.edu


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