And of these, contempt is the most harmful. (This is often displayed by rolling the eyes.) Gottman explains what we know:
"You would think criticism would be the worst, because criticism is a global condemnation of a person's character. Yet contempt is qualitatively different from criticism. With criticism I might say to my wife, 'You never listen, you are really selfish and insensitive. Well, she's going to respond defensively to that. That's not very good for our problem solving and interaction. But if I speak from a superior plane, that's far more damaging, and contempt is any statement made from a higher level. A lot of time it's an insult: 'You are a bitch. You're scum.' It's trying to put that person on a lower plane than you are. It's hierarchical."
He adds that contempt and disgust are close -- they infer completely rejecting the person from community, ostracizing them.
Disgust is one of the basic emotions from the reptilian brain. In other words, "automatic." In one of the couples they interviewed about how they met, the woman said she had been disgusted by the man's behavior on the first date. She then went on to marry him.
At times we go on "instinct", without thinking, and it turns out bad. Sometimes we over-ride "instinct" by thinking, and it turns out bad.
Instinct, intuition, "gut-feeling" is a wonderful tool if you understand how it works, and how it works for you. It is generally a disaster to ignore it, have it confused with fantasy, etc.
To learn more about your intuition, take my Intuition Course, or The EQ Course (tm). These courses are on the Internet, interactive, with feedback, and may be combined with coaching.
Emotional Intelligence competencies can be learned, and intuition is one of them.