Disgusted? Then You Might Be a Conservative

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men kissing

Cornell University psychologist David Pizarro and his colleagues have just published a study in the journal Cognition and Emotion that finds a correlation between being easily disgusted and some attitudes associated with politlcal conservatism. As the Washington Post reports (scroll down) Pizarro:

 … surveyed 181 adults from four politically mixed swing states to assess their general political leanings and their propensity to be disgusted by things such as maggots, feces and vomit. Those who were more likely to be grossed out tended to be more politically conservative, the researchers report in the journal Cognition & Emotion.

To test whether disgust sensitivity was associated with specific conservative ideas, the researchers then surveyed 91 Cornell undergraduates to test how sensitive they were to being grossed out and asked about their attitudes on same-sex marriage, abortion, gun control, labor unions, tax cuts, affirmative action and other issues.

Those who were most easily disgusted were more likely to oppose same-sex marriage and abortion and were somewhat more likely to support tax cuts. But there was no link to views on other policy issues.

In another study published in the journal, Pizarro and his colleagues found that those who were most easily disgusted were more likely to react negatively to homosexual behavior, such as two men kissing.

Interestingly, this falls in line with bioconservative Leon Kass' famous New Republic article in which he argued for "The Wisdom of Repugnance" in opposing human cloning research. The good news is that a lot of things that used to provoke the "yuck factor" in sizeable proportions of the American public, e.g., in vitro fertilization and homosexual sex, have become more acceptable over time.