If slime disgusts you then you are a conservative

June 5th, 2009 - 2:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 5 (IANS) Do crawly insects make you cringe or dead bodies make you blanch? Do you squirm when confronted with slime? If so, chances are you’re more conservative, politically. This is especially true in your attitudes towards gays and lesbians than your less-squeamish counterparts, according to two recent studies.
The results raise questions about the role of disgust, an emotion that evolved to keep humans safe from potential hazards, in contemporary judgements of morality and purity, says study leader David Pizarro, professor at Cornell University.

In the first study, Pizarro and co-authors Yoel Inbar of Harvard University and Paul Bloom of Yale University surveyed 181 US adults from politically mixed “swing states”.

They subjected these adults to two indexes: the Disgust Sensitivity Scale (DSS), which offers various scenarios to assess disgust sensitivity, and a political ideology scale.

From this they found a correlation between being more easily disgusted and political conservatism.

To test whether disgust sensitivity is linked to specific conservative attitudes, the researchers then surveyed 91 Cornell undergraduates with the DSS, as well as with questions about their positions on issues including gay marriage, abortion, gun control, labour unions, tax cuts and affirmative action.

Participants who rated higher in disgust sensitivity were more likely to oppose gay marriage and abortion, issues that are related to notions of morality or purity.

The researchers also found a weak correlation between disgust sensitivity and support for tax cuts, but no link between disgust sensitivity and the other issues.

And in a separate study Pizarro and colleagues found a link between higher disgust sensitivity and disapproval of gays and lesbians.

Liberals and conservatives disagree about whether disgust has a valid place in making moral judgments, Pizarro noted.

Conservatives have argued that there is inherent wisdom in repugnance; that feeling disgusted about something — gay sex between consenting adults, for example — is cause enough to judge it wrong or immoral, even lacking a concrete reason.

Liberals tend to disagree, and are more likely to base judgments on whether an action or a thing causes actual harm, said a Cornell release.

That can have tragic effects, as in cases throughout history where minorities have been victims of discrimination by groups that perceived them as having disgusting characteristics.

These two studies were published in the journals Emotion and Cognition and Emotion, respectively.

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