Disgust and the politics of sex: Exposure to a disgusting odorant increases politically conservative views on sex and decreases support for gay marriage

Thomas G. Adams, Patrick A. Stewart, John C. Blanchar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

Disgust has been implicated as a potential causal agent underlying socio-political attitudes and behaviors. Several recent studies have suggested that pathogen disgust may be a causal mechanism underlying social conservatism. However, the specificity of this effect is still in question. The present study tested the effects of disgust on a range of policy preferences to clarify whether disgust is generally implicated in political conservatism across public policy attitudes or is uniquely related to specific content domains. Self-reported socio-political attitudes were compared between participants in two experimental conditions: 1) an odorless control condition, and 2) a disgusting odor condition. In keeping with previous research, the present study showed that exposure to a disgusting odor increased endorsement of socially conservative attitudes related to sexuality. In particular, there was a strong and consistent link between induced disgust and less support for gay marriage.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere95572
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 5 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General

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