The Psychology (and Politics) of Disgust | Kathleen McAuliffe

The Psychology (and Politics) of Disgust | Kathleen McAuliffe


Similar parts of the brain – there’s a lot
of overlap in how we process both visceral disgust and moral disgust. Psychopaths – needless to say they’re these
cold-blooded killers are over representative in many of our high security jails. And these individuals show damage to many
of the same circuits that are involved in disgust. Another group of individuals, although they’re
not predatory but people with Huntington’s disease it also damages some of the circuits
that are involved in disgust. People with Huntington’s disease tend not
to be empathetic and they think that this is related to these circuits being damaged. And they’re almost unique in that they experience
almost no visceral disgust whatsoever. So somebody with Huntington’s disease, for
example, would think nothing of picking up feces with their bare hands. So there is this sort of very interesting
interrelationship, at least in the brain, between visceral and moral disgust. A little known fact is that conservatives
are more disgust sensitive. There’s a huge variation acrostic populations
in how disgust sensitive people are. There’s actually standardized scales that
measure, for example, the questionnaire you fill out and it will ask you questions about
like how revolted you would be If you stepped on dog poop or if you saw a cockroach on pizza
or a dirty toilet. And as a result of filling out these questionnaires
they’ve been able to look to see if there’s parallels between how disgust sensitive someone
is and how conservative they are. And indeed there is a correlation. And probably the reason for that is because,
again, the conservatives if you kind of really breakdown their belief systems they tend to
have conservative sexual values. So, for example, concepts like virginity pledges
are ideas that they’re fond of. They also tend to be more opposed to immigration
and foreigners are a leading source, at least in centuries past, foreigners were a leading
source of exotic germs for which we had no natural defenses. So it’s speculated that that could be another
factor behind why people who are more conservative in their political ideology why they tend
to be opposed to immigration. Conservatives also tend to be very tradition
bound. They tend to be a little bit more rigid about
following religious doctrine. And again, a lot of religious practices may
help to protect against infection. So that’s the leading theory as to why you
see this association. But in general, even in large survey studies
they’ve shown this link between germophobia and xenophobia. So, for example, there was a paper actually
that’s about to be published and I think they looked at 2000 Danes and 1200 Americans, representative
samples from both countries. And they found that opposition to immigration
increased in direct proportion to the disgust sensitivity of the individual. Another group did a study of 25,000 Americans. The study was done at the time of the 2008
presidential election between John McCain, a more conservative candidate, of course,
and Barack Obama. And they found that the more disgust sensitive
the person the more likely they would vote for John McCain. And they actually showed the proportion of
votes that went to McCain in each state. It was based on the average disgust sensitivity
of the state based on individual respondents to the survey.

54 thoughts on “The Psychology (and Politics) of Disgust | Kathleen McAuliffe

  1. I do have a hard time feeling disgusted by most of the objects, I can watch ISIS beheadings in bed before sleeping. It's starting to concern me (to some little degree)

  2. BREAKING NEWS – Liberals are less likely to give a shit and Conservatives tend to be more judgemental! – world shocked by completely predictable results!

  3. "Little known fact…filling out questionnaires…probably the reason for that…" lol, okay. This is an interesting, if not a reaching, correlation, but I think it's misleading. Might as well have titled this talk as "Why Liberals are Psychopaths"

  4. Conclusion: conservatives have better hygiene than liberals. Diseases related to dirty lifestyles (eg HIV, STDs, obesity, drug toxicity) are found primarily among the most dysfunctional in society. Interestingly, psychologically disturbed patients are inordinately liberal in their political views and of course suffer poor hygiene. Many have noted liberalism is delusional – a form of mental illness. We have a sick, dishonest, delusional, and morally bankrupt Hillary Clinton representing these people. Makes sense on may levels

  5. That makes sense. The liberals don't care about the cockroach that has been crawling all over the laws and policies in this country known as the Clintons

  6. Psychologists are really the biggest problem in society. If everyone doesn't fit neatly into their little categories, they look to useless studies that corroborate their definition of the problem and never a new angle on anything.
    Their boxed off world is equally as frightening as a Psychopath.

  7. Sources or this is all crap. You are just saying this study that study. No actual studies sighted. Sorry this is just so far out there. So because someone is grossed out means they vote a certain way. Sorry not going to believe it until I see the research.

  8. Psychopaths have a low level of disgust. Apparently Liberals also have a low level of disgust. Ergo…. :p

    (This is basically "science" as a cover for a political agenda on illegal immigration. Since I have such a high level of disgust, I could easily detect that stench from a mile away. 😉 )

  9. and what about disgust for the whole life on earth as we know it cause it is born in filth, live in filth and die in filth. that's why psychology is a pseudoscience including many many other reasons but mostly because of their methods.

  10. So more disgust feelings equals more likely conservative values….
    Little to no disgust indicates psychopathy or a disease damage brain…
    Hmm… explains why progressives act so psychotic, doesn't it?
    Lmao 😉

  11. Moral of this story:
    Disgust is a biological reaction meant to keep us safe from disease & death, as a survival mechanism.
    Conservatives have a properly working survival mechanism bc they get disgusted easily by gross things.
    Psychotics & some brain damaged people feel no disgust, so their survival mechanisms don't work.
    Progressives are opposite of conservatives, so they have little to no disgust, therefore little to no survival mechanisms… they would die in the wild.
    So…. progressivism is a brain disease that leads to self destruction & doesn't exist in nature.
    Makes sense.

  12. I read in the new scientist that the moral disgust centres as it were are built atop the more physical disgust, and some people were better at separating the two kinds.

  13. as a conservative I'm offended by this video as it is full of negative generalizations directed at me. how do I flag this as offensive content?

  14. Can we just use a little common sense to what people are disgusted to? For example: Being disgusted by a black person =/= being disgusted by a furry. Being disgusted by shit IRL =/= being disgusted to gore on a television show. Being disgusted by pedophilia =/= being disgusted by spiders.

    Can we use a bit of sense here? Please?

  15. THIS is a cool video. Weird influx of the stereotype US conservatives trying to proclaim their superiority in the comments section, but apart from that, cool video.

  16. To conservatives who may be "triggered" by this lesson. There've been MANY scientific studies that back up what she's saying. Conservative are "threat accessors", meaning they are less likely to take risks…unlike Liberals. It's built right into our names! This is not a judgement on who is "right" or "better", just a fact-based assessment of human nature. Ironically, if you've got a problem with this knowledge, you're proving another point everyone says about conservatives….you hate science.

  17. Stop using science and/or pseudo science to push a political agenda that is not linked to the science. I can tolerate pushing global warming policy because there has been objective studies conducted that prove the presence of global warming. However, making a video that is supposed to be (titled as) on a particular biological mechanism, and then ranting about a vague portion of a vague political demographic in a negative light is not something that I can tolerate.

  18. Gee, I guess we now know, because conservatives are more capable of experiencing disgust, why conservatives find crooked Hillary to be so disgusting, but liberals are just fine with her. Notice that Kathleen also linked this inability with lack of empathy. Indeed, most of the genuinely empathetic people I know are conservatives.

  19. I have found that owning a dog (and having to scoop turds when you walk it) makes you, if not immune to the sense of disgust, somewhat hardened to it. Has anyone done a study to see if dog ownership, or taking one of Mr. Rowe's "dirty jobs" correlates with a leftward turn in political attitudes?

  20. Wasn't there a study that could prove studies can correlate anything to anything? Studies should be very carefully accepted as fact.

  21. Wait. Are you saying that my life's experiences has given me Huntington's disease, simply because I will pick up a large lump of human feces and grind and/or ejaculate into it or throw it away or whatever? I'm pretty sure everyone has Huntington's disease of that's the case. That feces has to be put to some purpose or go somewhere. It's just conservation of energy.

  22. An interesting follow up to these studies would be to investigate if disgust-sensitivity can change, because we know the brain to be very plastic, and we know that it's possible for people to change their political positions substantially.
    So if a very liberal person has a shift in their politics causing them to become more conservative, would they become more disgust-sensitive as well?
    What if a very conservative person underwent exposure therapy or got a job as a plumber and became conditioned to be less disgust-sensitive, would their politics shift more liberal?

  23. Outwardly. Even anonymously. Don't the very conservative strive to be conservative? Sounds like denial to me. Borderline delusion.

    Edit: correlative "science" makes me cringe.

  24. I believe (social) psychology can (just my opinion) also play a role from the fact that thankfully, our society is now progressive in terms of value an traditions (economic liberalism is mosty rightish and center, but inside this progress rules), which is like a constant agression for a conservative, there comes sciences, evolution and psychology that explains the cognitive mechanisms of why in this situation people will gather in very united social groups, knowing their notions and rhetorics by heart, that's to say creating an indestructible wall against cognitive dissonance and the every second aggression of this progressive modern society.
    Then disgust could be another brick of this wall, with all the cognitive bias, the advocacy of strenght, the cherry picking, the propaganda and proselytism ect… that's to say a defense mechanism. Just my opinion thought, If my comment resist to "peer" review and none of what I said is bullshit, a cool thing would be to see correlation or not with other socially "oppressed" social groups towards disgust (I think of non-rightists religious people in western europe (atheism is the norm), or LGBTs); or maybe with people said "out of the box" supposed to have acquired a more hardcore state of mind (if it's not a myth, just wondering…skepticism done right :D).

  25. This is so interesting. She did a really good job of coming across as impartial and just delivery the facts without appearing to sway one way or the other in terms of if there is a better/worse way to be

  26. Imigrants and poor people are disgusting and spread disease – got it. Well nice to see a big think vid actualy talking sense for a change.

  27. I wonder if there is a discernible relationship be between the amount of nuance in a person's worldview and how easily that person will lose their shit over the results of a disgust sensitivity study.

  28. so a liberal voter is likely to be more comfortable with handling a clump of feces, whereas a conservative voter has more rigid standards and dignity?

    It's really easy to abuse this theory to boost your political ego. I only chose to favor the conservative side because there are enough people who rushed to promote the liberal side of this theory. The preferred stance in every manifestation of this metaphor is OBVIOUSLY a balanced one, lol, where one is above eating raw sewage but not so prudish that they hide in a clean room. And yes, that metaphor can be taken as a comment on cultural tolerance. One should strive to accept the best of another culture and reject the worst, instead of total border removal (Merkel) or total border reinforcement (Trump). As if this even needs to be pointed out nowadays…

  29. a toilet worker or sweeper will be highly disgust resistant but that doesn't mean he will always be a conservative. so, only by disgust level we cannot judge a person.
    however I liked your theories about "germophobia" and "genophobia".

  30. So general and full of faculae stereotyping . I’m a conservative … gay … did everything sexually , messy , fat from a nerd but anti immigration cause it’s done for political reason not disgusted by people who speak different language …
    is that scientific ? From university of Ghana ? Haha

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