STUDY: University researchers claim ‘disgusting odors’ cause political conservatism, homophobia

Kaitlyn Schallhorn
Former Reporter

  • University of Arkansas researchers surveyed 57 study participants on their social views, then exposed 27 of them to a stench of rancid butter and sweat.
  • The researchers claim that disgust with the stench was correlated with conservative views on sexuality.
  • Researchers at the University of Arkansas have found that exposure to disgusting odors increases social conservatism.

    Using only a small pool of students and community members, a recent study called “Disgust and the Politics of Sex” found that repugnant smells directly correlate with political conservatism and a general disdain of specific social groups—in particular, homosexuals.

    "Disgust sensitivity and reactivity have been shown to relate to political conservatism generally and have been implicated in negative and hostile attitudes towards a range of social out-groups, particularly homosexuals."   

    “Disgust sensitivity and reactivity have been shown to relate to political conservatism generally and have been implicated in negative and hostile attitudes towards a range of social out-groups, particularly homosexuals,” the report, published in the journal PLOS One, says. “In keeping with the aforementioned research, some have suggested that disgust is specifically related to conservative attitudes that pertain to social or moral purity, and, in particular, sexual purity.”

    However, the researchers’ findings were the result of only 57 participants. Twenty-seven people were exposed to a stench of rancid butter and sweat while the remaining thirty were not. Participants were paid $10 each.

    All participants were required to complete a questionnaire comprised of moral and sexual situations. They were asked to rate the scenarios and ideas on a scale of “not disgusting at all” to “extremely disgusting.”

    The researchers found that 25.9 percent of those exposed to the noxious stench adhered to strict conservative ideologies as well as responded negatively to same-sex marriage, pornography and premarital sex questions. The researchers also found that those exposed to the smell typically agreed more with “Biblical truth.”

    PLOS One is a peer-reviewed research publication featuring reports on science and medicine.

    "The University of Arkansas has a threefold mission of teaching, research and service, supports academic freedom and encourages research by its faculty members," a spokesperson from the University of Arkansas told Campus Reform. "Any endorsement of research comes in the form of, and through, the publication of the research in respected, peer-reviewed journals, such as PLOS One."

    The University of Arkansas is one of the top 50 public research universities in the United States. 

    Via Huffington Post.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @katie0509





    Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Former Reporter

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with Campus Reform. Prior to joining Campus Reform, Kaitlyn was a reporter at Red Alert Politics and covered business and restaurants for the Alexandria Times.  

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