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The accepted psychological theory is that aversion to icky stuff is learned, so babies don't regard the smell or taste as yucky. If you consider that what are considered delicacies in some countries are regarded as highly distasteful in others, that seems to support the theory.
Quote from: DoctorBeaver on 21/08/2007 18:19:33The accepted psychological theory is that aversion to icky stuff is learned, so babies don't regard the smell or taste as yucky. If you consider that what are considered delicacies in some countries are regarded as highly distasteful in others, that seems to support the theory.I think there is some evidence that this is by no means always as simple as that.I have heard that aversion to brassica is now regarded as at least partly genetic. I have also heard comment that we are more tolerant of some spicy food as we get older as our sense of smell and taste deteriorates.Thus, while I cannot say whether it is true in this case, I can well imagine that some smells and tastes might be different in a small baby than in an adult for purely genetic reasons (just as the brain develops, so too maybe the olfactory senses may alter to reflect the different needs of a young baby from an older child).Do you have any evidence the their are societies where adults do not have an aversion to faeces, or any individuals who have grown up in unusual circumstances where such an aversion has not been taught?
I do think that kids need to be exposed to germs, there is far too much fussiness now about children being clean and away from any dirt. but cat poo! i think i would draw a line there.
I don't disagree about the specific risks (particularly with regard to Toxoplasma gondii, or other parasite, infection; but was merely querying the reason.
I can't, offhand, think of a society that doesn't have an aversion to faeces; but that would seem to prove the point that aversions are learned - or, should I say, may be learned. If babies do not have that aversion but all adults do, that surely indicates a learning process.
My point about delicacies was that people from 1 part of the world may consider delicacies from another part of the world as distasteful. For instance, on a visit to HK I tried sea cucumber, having been assured it was a delicacy. I thought it tasted disgusting, but my host was wolfing them down. That, to me, also points to the fact that taste and, consequently, aversion to certain tastes, is learned.
I know that warriors of the Samburu tribe of Kenya smear cattle faeces on themselves for ceremonials.