Ever wonder why you can’t help but rubberneck at a car crash as you’re driving by?
UCF Assistant Professor Bridget Rubenking says it’s all about evolution. Rubenking, an assistant professor of radio and television at the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication, was a featured guest on HuffPost Live with host Nancy Redd on Thursday as part of a panel discussion on viewing gory images and videos on the Internet.
During the 16-minute video, Rubenking shared findings from her research on why humans feel compelled to view things that elicit disgust, such as blood, guts and body products. Her research involved measuring various physiological responses experienced by 130 undergraduate students as they were shown video clips of disgusting scenes in entertainment media, such as the infamous toilet scene from the movie “Trainspotting.”
“We found that once disgust was introduced in a scene, people started paying attention a lot more….Surprisingly few people stopped and turned away,” Rubenking said.
Her research entitled “Captivated and Grossed Out: An Examination of Processing Core and Sociomoral Disgusts in Entertainment Media” was published by the Journal of Communication in 2014, and has since been featured in media outlets such as the Daily Mail, ABC News, New York Magazine and Science Daily.
“It’s a very evolutionary fit thing to rubberneck at gore and gross images. It’s inherently human to pay attention to these things, because we want to avoid it. We tend to gawk at the scene of a car accident so that we know to avoid this happening to us,” Rubenking said.