The TV show Game of Thrones has had its fair share of violence, gore, and incest. Of particular interest is how despite arousing negative emotions accompanying such acts, it continues to be among the most watched shows on television. This is especially the case because many of the scenes in the show evoke shock or disgust. We are interested in exploring the relationship between the functional domains of disgust, and disgust as evoked by various scenes in Game of Thrones.
Disgust, in evolutionary terms, has been thought of as a mechanism evolved to avoid stimuli that could be potentially harmful for the organism for its survival- or reproduction- related goals. Disgust has, thus, been proposed to have evolved to solve three functionally distinct adaptive problems: fitness cost of infectious agents; fitness costs related to maladaptive or risky sexual behaviours (including fitness of offspring/s); and fitness costs related to social transgressions. These have been termed as Pathogen Disgust, Sexual Disgust, and Moral Disgust respectively. Our main purpose is to understanding how the three domains of disgust relate to the scenes depicting the three domains of disgust in the show, Game of Thrones. More specifically, this study aims at exploring how people who watch the show score on the three domains of disgust, and how disgusting they find scenes involving each domain of disgust.
Disgust, by definition, is an avoidance mechanism with a strong emotional response. Disgust, especially sexual disgust, has been found to be an intuitive reaction, even when no rational reasons can be argued. It would seem that certain scenes from Game of Thrones would cause some amount of disgust, however, not enough to repel them, considering that the ratings of the show have only gone up It is likely that disgust as elicited in response to ‘real life’ stimuli and stimuli on a TV show could elicit different levels of disgust. While one of the reasons for the success of the show could be the emotions it evokes, we are specifically interested in how individuals who watch (and enjoy) the show react specifically to scenes arousing disgust, and how they rate the functional domains of disgust. Thus, this study would further our understanding of the nature of disgust.
We are interested in understanding how the threshold for acceptance of disgusting behaviours could potentially be different in fictional settings. For this, we have chosen the TV show Game of Thrones, which has so far presented scenes involving the three domains of disgust. Therefore, we are interested in examining how they relate.
Hiring and remunerating research personnel and participant co-ordinators will enable us to collect more data for this project. Similarly, incentivising participants to complete the survey will help us understand the evolutionary underpinnings of disgust and its representations in this popular TV show.