The more easily disgusted you are, the more likely you are to be a conservative/LGBTQ nation
Some things seem universal. You look at something disgusting, like a picture of a car wreck, and everyone would be repulsed. Disgust would not know political ideology.
Except that apparently it is.
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Studies have shown that the way you react to disgusting things — whether it’s the idea of maggot-infested meat or the smell of vomit — actually correlates to your political views. The more disgusted you are with something, the more likely you are to be conservative in your politics.
If this surprises you, it’s for the scientists who also decided to test the idea.
When neuroscientist Read Montague started a study in the mid-2000s, he was pretty skeptical. The idea was to test the hypothesis that political orientation can be partly inherited, somehow hardwired into our physiology.
Montague showed the volunteers a variety of images, including mutilated animals, dirty toilets, and sore-riddled faces, while scanning the volunteers’ minds. When he saw the results, he said Atlantic“my jaw dropped.”
Both liberals and conservatives reacted to the images. But different parts of their neural networks were activated. Based on where the activity was taking place, Montague could predict with over 95% accuracy whether a person was liberal or conservative. (Photos of bunnies and smiling babies didn’t have such a correlation.)
It was just a study. According to Atlantic, numerous studies have shown that the intensity of your disgust is closely linked to “a conservative philosophy”. The magazine defined this as having “characteristics such as traditionalism, religiosity, support for authority and hierarchy, sexual conservatism, and distrust of outsiders”.
If loathing and conservative political beliefs are intertwined by biology, then the right’s vicious attacks on LGBTQ progress are designed to appeal to exactly that feeling of revulsion.
In a typical example, in the 1990s, the Indiana Policy Review published an essay that described homosexuals as wearing “extremely high rates of disease caused by the nature of their sexual practices and the promiscuity that characterizes their way of life. It was at the height of the AIDS epidemic; unsurprisingly, Mike Pence was the president of the foundation that published the journal, which went on to talk about “feces” being ingested during rimming.
The same alarmism – or rhetoric of disgust – is prevalent today. The endless talk about bathrooms when it comes to transgender people is designed to associate them with something inherently dirty. Likewise, the growing slander linking LGBTQ people to pedophilia is another attempt to ignite the neural networks of disgust among conservatives, albeit unwittingly.
Unfortunately, the mechanism of disgust among conservatives is easily tied to a worldview that their world is being invaded by people who don’t look like them. Perhaps there was once a biological reason to be concerned about strangers as a source of contagion. Having this persistence in people’s neurology makes change even more difficult.
Worse still, disgust is something people don’t notice and aren’t likely to change on their own. It’s “less open to change based on your judgment, your thoughts, your reasoning,” said Cornell psychology professor David Pizarro. Atlantic.
This means that appealing to the lowest common denominator in the lowest terms can be a political winner, for those inclined to accept the message. There is only one word for this conclusion: disgusting.