Conference Talk – HBES 2024

Outrage in Moral Punishments: The Dual Dynamics of Anger and Disgust in Personal Experience and Social Signaling

Exploring the emotional landscape in moral punishments, two projects examine the roles of anger and disgust in responses to moral transgressions, through perspectives of personal experience and social signaling. The first project, with two studies (N’s = 908, 360), investigates how the interpersonal value of victims by observers affects their emotional and aggressive responses. The results indicate a stronger association of interpersonal value with anger and direct aggression, compared to disgust, which is more linked to indirect aggression. Additionally, anger correlates with both direct and indirect aggression, while disgust is tied only to indirect aggression. The second project, comprising three studies (N’s = 800, 1630, 1100), explores the communicative functions of anger and disgust expressions in outrage. Findings show that perceptions of anger lead to expectations of direct aggression, whereas perceptions of disgust lean towards indirect aggression. This highlights the distinct roles of these expressions in shaping expectations of aggression. Together, these projects reveal the complex mechanisms of emotional experience and signaling in transgression contexts, affirming stable associations between anger and direct aggression, and disgust and indirect aggression, from both experiencer and observer perspectives. They advance understanding of the dynamics in human social interactions and moral judgment.