Why is it, as humans, it’s almost impossible to look away from things that make our stomachs turn. We always have to look at people broken down on the side of the road, for whatever reason, yet we can’t stand the other rubber-neckers that slow down traffic. We’re drawn to videos depicting people injuring themselves. How many times have we watched the Jackass crew do something to hurt themselves or each other? Then there’s the videos of pimple popping…
Why are these videos so beloved? According to Daniel Kelly, author of the book Yuck!: The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust, repulsion is something we use to keep us safe from the dangers of contagious disease or infection.
“Disgust is a psychological component to this arsenal of protective weaponry,” Kelly said. “Instead of waiting until something gets into our system that we have to fight to push out, disgust helps us to stay away from objects and people that are likely to get us sick.”
While all that is true and understandable, why is it so hypnotizing to watch for so many? “Rather, negative sensations are interesting, particularly when you’re in a context where they can’t hurt you,” Nina Strohminger, author of The Hedonics of Disgust said. “You’re probably not going to step in dog $**T just for the experience, but maybe you’d click on a link to watch someone else doing it.”