Tuesday, February 16, 2010

disgust sensitivity as a predictor of political attitudes

allacademic | Traditional explanations of individual-level variation in political attitudes have emphasized events occurring in the immediate political environment but recent research has started to include baseline dispositional variations in biological traits. In this paper, we continue this trend by analyzing the relationship between political issue preferences and physiological responses to disgusting images. Previously published research reports a connection between disgust sensitivity and certain political orientations, such as those pertaining specifically to homosexuality as well as broader collections of left-right issues, but has relied only on self-reports of disgust sensitivity. Given that self-reports are often inaccurate, we instead record and analyze involuntary measures of disgust sensitivity; particularly, skin conductance and startle blink EMG response. These long-accepted psycho-physiological measures permit a richer and more meaningful test of the possibility that some issue preferences are at least partially shaped by bedrock physiological orientations to generic rather than overtly political stimuli.

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