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Disgust sensitivity and the neurophysiology of left-right political orientations.

Smith KB, Oxley D, Hibbing MV, Alford JR, Hibbing JR - PLoS ONE (2011)

Bottom Line: Given its primal nature and essential value in avoiding pathogens disgust likely has an effect even without registering in conscious beliefs.In this article, we demonstrate that individuals with marked involuntary physiological responses to disgusting images, such as of a man eating a large mouthful of writhing worms, are more likely to self-identify as conservative and, especially, to oppose gay marriage than are individuals with more muted physiological responses to the same images.This relationship holds even when controlling for the degree to which respondents believe themselves to be disgust sensitive and suggests that people's physiological predispositions help to shape their political orientations.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Political Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, United States of America. ksmith1@unl.edu

ABSTRACT
Disgust has been described as the most primitive and central of emotions. Thus, it is not surprising that it shapes behaviors in a variety of organisms and in a variety of contexts--including homo sapien politics. People who believe they would be bothered by a range of hypothetical disgusting situations display an increased likelihood of displaying right-of-center rather than left-of-center political orientations. Given its primal nature and essential value in avoiding pathogens disgust likely has an effect even without registering in conscious beliefs. In this article, we demonstrate that individuals with marked involuntary physiological responses to disgusting images, such as of a man eating a large mouthful of writhing worms, are more likely to self-identify as conservative and, especially, to oppose gay marriage than are individuals with more muted physiological responses to the same images. This relationship holds even when controlling for the degree to which respondents believe themselves to be disgust sensitive and suggests that people's physiological predispositions help to shape their political orientations.

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Gender and Response to Disgusting Stimuli.Panel A presents the mean scores for the self-report disgust scale and panel B presents the mean scores for skin conductance response. The range of both self-reported and physiological disgust sensitivity has been standardized to run from 0 to 1. Mean gender differences occur for self-reported disgust sensitivity (t = 2.85, p<.01, two-tailed test) but not for physiological disgust sensitivity (t = .22, p = .82, two-tailed test).
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pone-0025552-g003: Gender and Response to Disgusting Stimuli.Panel A presents the mean scores for the self-report disgust scale and panel B presents the mean scores for skin conductance response. The range of both self-reported and physiological disgust sensitivity has been standardized to run from 0 to 1. Mean gender differences occur for self-reported disgust sensitivity (t = 2.85, p<.01, two-tailed test) but not for physiological disgust sensitivity (t = .22, p = .82, two-tailed test).

Mentions: As indicated in Figure 3, where the range of both physiological and self-reported disgust sensitivity has been standardized to run from 0 to 1, mean gender differences occur for self-reported disgust sensitivity (p<.05) but not for physiological disgust sensitivity (p = .82). One possible explanation of these results is that females claim to be more disgust sensitive because they feel societal pressure to project sensitivity just as males report being less disgust sensitive because they feel societal pressure to project toughness. Whether or not this interpretation is correct, these findings showing gender differences for self-reported but not physiological response fit with previous studies [34], [35]. Thus, existing scholarship (and folk wisdom) holding that “women are more disgust sensitive than men,” [10], [22] should be changed to women report being more disgust sensitive than men.


Disgust sensitivity and the neurophysiology of left-right political orientations.

Smith KB, Oxley D, Hibbing MV, Alford JR, Hibbing JR - PLoS ONE (2011)

Gender and Response to Disgusting Stimuli.Panel A presents the mean scores for the self-report disgust scale and panel B presents the mean scores for skin conductance response. The range of both self-reported and physiological disgust sensitivity has been standardized to run from 0 to 1. Mean gender differences occur for self-reported disgust sensitivity (t = 2.85, p<.01, two-tailed test) but not for physiological disgust sensitivity (t = .22, p = .82, two-tailed test).
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3198440&req=5

pone-0025552-g003: Gender and Response to Disgusting Stimuli.Panel A presents the mean scores for the self-report disgust scale and panel B presents the mean scores for skin conductance response. The range of both self-reported and physiological disgust sensitivity has been standardized to run from 0 to 1. Mean gender differences occur for self-reported disgust sensitivity (t = 2.85, p<.01, two-tailed test) but not for physiological disgust sensitivity (t = .22, p = .82, two-tailed test).
Mentions: As indicated in Figure 3, where the range of both physiological and self-reported disgust sensitivity has been standardized to run from 0 to 1, mean gender differences occur for self-reported disgust sensitivity (p<.05) but not for physiological disgust sensitivity (p = .82). One possible explanation of these results is that females claim to be more disgust sensitive because they feel societal pressure to project sensitivity just as males report being less disgust sensitive because they feel societal pressure to project toughness. Whether or not this interpretation is correct, these findings showing gender differences for self-reported but not physiological response fit with previous studies [34], [35]. Thus, existing scholarship (and folk wisdom) holding that “women are more disgust sensitive than men,” [10], [22] should be changed to women report being more disgust sensitive than men.

Bottom Line: Given its primal nature and essential value in avoiding pathogens disgust likely has an effect even without registering in conscious beliefs.In this article, we demonstrate that individuals with marked involuntary physiological responses to disgusting images, such as of a man eating a large mouthful of writhing worms, are more likely to self-identify as conservative and, especially, to oppose gay marriage than are individuals with more muted physiological responses to the same images.This relationship holds even when controlling for the degree to which respondents believe themselves to be disgust sensitive and suggests that people's physiological predispositions help to shape their political orientations.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Political Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, United States of America. ksmith1@unl.edu

ABSTRACT
Disgust has been described as the most primitive and central of emotions. Thus, it is not surprising that it shapes behaviors in a variety of organisms and in a variety of contexts--including homo sapien politics. People who believe they would be bothered by a range of hypothetical disgusting situations display an increased likelihood of displaying right-of-center rather than left-of-center political orientations. Given its primal nature and essential value in avoiding pathogens disgust likely has an effect even without registering in conscious beliefs. In this article, we demonstrate that individuals with marked involuntary physiological responses to disgusting images, such as of a man eating a large mouthful of writhing worms, are more likely to self-identify as conservative and, especially, to oppose gay marriage than are individuals with more muted physiological responses to the same images. This relationship holds even when controlling for the degree to which respondents believe themselves to be disgust sensitive and suggests that people's physiological predispositions help to shape their political orientations.

Show MeSH