How Disgust Influences Health Purity Attitudes

How Disgust Influences Health Purity Attitudes Food and health regulations are increasingly being pushed onto the political agenda, with rising concerns about genetically modified foods, obesity rates, and vaccination. Public beliefs and attitudes on these issues often conflict with the scientific evidence, yet we know relatively little about what influences opinion on these issues. The public lacks clear partisan cues, and many food and health attitudes cut across the ideological spectrum. We argue that these issues represent new ‘purity’ attitudes that are driven by the emotion of disgust. Across three studies, both by measuring individuals’ trait disgust sensitivity and experimentally inducing an emotional state of disgust, we demonstrate the impact of disgust on food and health policy attitudes. Our results show that greater sensitivity to disgust is associated with support for organic foods, opposition to genetically modified foods, and anti-vaccination beliefs. However, we find only limited evidence that experimentally manipulated disgust affects attitudes toward genetically modified and organic foods. Overall, our results demonstrate that disgust plays an important role in attitudes regarding public health and broadens our understanding of purity attitudes. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Political Behavior Springer Journals

How Disgust Influences Health Purity Attitudes

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2015 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Political Science and International Relations; Political Science; Sociology, general
ISSN
0190-9320
eISSN
1573-6687
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11109-015-9310-z
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Food and health regulations are increasingly being pushed onto the political agenda, with rising concerns about genetically modified foods, obesity rates, and vaccination. Public beliefs and attitudes on these issues often conflict with the scientific evidence, yet we know relatively little about what influences opinion on these issues. The public lacks clear partisan cues, and many food and health attitudes cut across the ideological spectrum. We argue that these issues represent new ‘purity’ attitudes that are driven by the emotion of disgust. Across three studies, both by measuring individuals’ trait disgust sensitivity and experimentally inducing an emotional state of disgust, we demonstrate the impact of disgust on food and health policy attitudes. Our results show that greater sensitivity to disgust is associated with support for organic foods, opposition to genetically modified foods, and anti-vaccination beliefs. However, we find only limited evidence that experimentally manipulated disgust affects attitudes toward genetically modified and organic foods. Overall, our results demonstrate that disgust plays an important role in attitudes regarding public health and broadens our understanding of purity attitudes.

Journal

Political BehaviorSpringer Journals

Published: Jun 26, 2015

References

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    Balzer, A; Jacobs, CM
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    Banks, AJ; Valentino, NA
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    Barry, CL; Brescoll, VL; Brownell, KD; Schlesinger, M
  • Family decision at the turn of the century: Has the changing structure of households impacted the family decision-making process?
    Belch, MA; Willis, LA
  • Striking a responsive chord: How political ads motivate and persuade voters by appealing to emotions
    Brader, T
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    Cashdan, E; Steele, M
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    Charash, M; McKay, D
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    Costa-Font, M; Gil, JM; Traill, WB
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    Gadarian, SK; Albertson, B
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