Feeling is perceiving
How are you feeling today? Perhaps a little bit of trepidation is dancing across your amygdala as you contemplate that first date tonight? Maybe a touch of anger is colouring your frontal lobe as you wonder who left that half eaten chicken teriyaki dish in the office kitchen overnight? Perhaps this latter scenario is also triggering a touch of disgust? Whatever you are feeling there is plenty of evidence to show us that your feelings change you at real physical level and a new study has shown that if you are feeling disgust that can literally change how you see things.
In the study researchers from Harvard had people look at four rectangles. One of the rectangles was either slightly darker or slightly lighter than the others. The subjects were asked to nominate which of the triangles they thought was different to the other three. Prior to this task the subjects were given personality tests.
It emerged that generally the subjects could better distinguish the odd rectangle out if it was at the dark end of the spectrum. However, people who showed a disposition to feeling disgust did better at distinguishing differences at the light end of the spectrum. This was confirmed in a second study so the researchers then wanted to see if generating disgust in people could also make them more sensitive to the light end of the spectrum.
In this follow up people were first show images aimed at generating disgust (cockroaches, rubbish etc.) or fear (guns, angry faces, etc.). The people were then asked to perform the same discrimination task as before and again those who had been made to feel disgust showed better discriminatory ability at the light end of the spectrum. Interestingly though, people who were scored low on natural levels of disgust were not as affected by being shown the disgusting images.
This would suggest that your ambient nature interacts with your transient emotions to produce your perceptions.
As far as the effect of disgust goes, when something is white (or light) we are more likely to assume that it is clean and pure. So if you are prone to disgust your perception is tuned in to the light end of the spectrum as a way of detecting purity.
It all adds up to that whatever you are feeling make sure it is authentic, do not contrive or indulge a mood, because your feelings shape how you experience the world at fundamental level.