Disgusting toolhandles (studies)


“People will not pick up a tool by the handle if it is physically disgusting.”

This is one of the findings of a research group at the Psychology Department of The College of William & Mary* Virginia, US. Their 2013 study can be viewed here in ‘poster’ format – it’s entitled ‘So close and yet so far away: An effect of disgust on tool and distance perception’

The team not only found that :

“Disgust can influence how a tool is grasped and picked up.”

But also :

“Disgusting tools are seen as closer and must be pushed farther from the observer to be viewed as just within reach.“

Unfortunately (perhaps for reasons of space) the document doesn’t specify  exactly what the disgusting material was. But fortunately, another paper by the same team – this time in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, (submitted). ‘Too close for comfort: Feelings of disgust affect distance perception’ goes into more detail :

“Disgust was evoked by covering the tools in a gross substance.”

“… a visibly thick mixture of Vaseline and hand lotion in equal parts.”

For the benefit of other disgust researchers an alternative disgusting material recipe can be found here :

 * Note: That’s King William III and Queen Mary II of England, 1693

“Not many colleges can say they’ve canceled [sic] classes because ‘the British invaded’.”

Also See :  Disgust With ‘Disgust’