Disgusting Slime [update & erratum]

An Improbable note for August 19th, 2011 was related to Exploring disgust-related tactile processes. At the time, we had not been able to discover the exact nature of the ‘disgusting’ material used in the experiment. We are now in a position to reveal the recipe for the disgusting dough-like substance – thanks to a full copy of the paper now posted at (co-author) Professor Debra Lieberman’s website.

“The dough mixture was made using 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of water, 1 cup of salt, and 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar, yielding a consistency similar to Play-Doh. Each dough stimulus was formed into a fist-sized ball.”

Erratum : In the original article we mistakenly asserted that the non-disgusting control material was a powder. It was in fact cotton rope.

Experimental subjects rated the materials in four categories:

• ‘How disgusting’
• ‘How disgusting to put in mouth’
• ‘How willing to touch again’
• ‘How appealing’

The authors note that new recipes may be required for future studies :

“Additional studies might select more mucoid, slimy and viscous textures textures rated as highly disgusting to examine the range of tactile properties associated with the disgust response”

We will of course endeavour to publish the new recipes as/when/should/if they become available.