Monday, August 06, 2012

religious conservatism: an evolutionarily evoked disease-avoidance strategy

tandfonline | Issues of purity and symbolic cleansing (e.g., baptism) play an important role in most religions, especially Christianity. The purpose of the current research was to provide an evolutionary framework for understanding the role of disgust in religiosity, which may help elucidate the relationship between religious conservatism and non-proscribed prejudice (e.g., prejudice toward sexual minorities). The behavioral immune system (BIS) is a cluster of psychological mechanisms (e.g., disgust) that encourage disease-avoidance (Schaller, 2006). Out-group members have historically been a source of contamination. Consequently, evidence suggests that the BIS predicts negative attitudes toward out-groups (Faulkner, Schaller, Park, & Duncan, 2004). The purpose of the current research is to investigate whether religious conservatism mediates the relationship between the BIS and prejudice toward sexual minorities. Study 1 demonstrated that the disease-avoidant components of disgust (e.g., sexual and pathogen disgust), but not moral disgust, were positively correlated with religious conservatism. Additionally, the data supported a model in which religious conservatism mediated the relationship between disgust and prejudice toward homosexuals. In Study 2, the correlations and mediation model were replicated with a more diverse sample and different measures. The current research suggests that religious conservatism may be in part an evolutionarily evoked disease-avoidance strategy.


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