Rejoice, moist-averse! There's now research that points to why you probably hate the word. Hint: It has to do with sex.
Also slippery when... ah, you probably don't want me to say. (via Thinkstock)
When you ask people what words they hate, there's one that comes up again and again: moist. Enough people hate it with a fiery passion (or should it be a dewey, wet passion?) that I kind of want to be a jerk right now and repeat it a bunch of times: moist moist moist moist moist.
Sorry about that, moist-haters. But the good news is that some scientists at Oberlin College and Trinity University have done some research into why you probably hate the word. And through three related studies, they discovered that it's not, as some theorized, that saying words like moist cause the facial muscles to mimic an expression of disgust. Nor is it that the sound of the word is what grosses people out — that was quickly dispelled when people had no problem with "foist."
Rather, research points to a much more straightforward reason, the same reason why we hate diapers, toilets, crusty teen-boy socks, and so many other things: we associate the word with "disgusting bodily functions." Jim Davies has a nice summation of the research on Nautilus:
Well, people found “moist" most aversive when it follows an unrelated, pleasant word, such as “paradise." There seems to be a contrast effect going on here. “Moist" seems bad when following “paradise" but not when following a really negative word, like a racial slur. “Moist" also didn't seem so unpleasant when it followed words related to food, such as “cake." In contrast, it provoked the most negative reactions when preceded by overtly sexual words (use your imagination).
But because we're not quite as classy as Nautilus, I'll tell you that the words the researchers used included "fuck" and "pussy." I'm disappointed that there was no "moist penis" association, but you know what they say about psychological research: "They almost never use the phrase 'moist penis.'"
Overall, researchers estimated that about 20% of the population is moist-averse.