Adams TG, Stewart PA, Blanchar JC (2014) Disgust and the Politics of Sex: Exposure to a Disgusting Odorant Increases Politically Conservative Views on Sex and Decreases Support for Gay Marriage. PLoS ONE 9(5): e95572. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095572
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.