Thursday, March 8, 2018

Primitive Mentality

Conservative caveman. Just kidding, he isn’t actually disgusted, because his lip doesn’t curl back to resist the (simulation of) bad food that would be approaching his mouth.

Mar 2018,

“People who are easily disgusted by body odours are also drawn to authoritarian political leaders.”

That’s what the article says. Well, that’s what the scientist hypothesizes. And his explanation is pretty convincing – if you’re extra sensitive to the smells of sweat or urine, you may be more supportive of the dictator type of political leader who “puts people in their places,” because that type of leader reduces contact between different groups of people (i.e., divides people) which decreases anyone’s chance of becoming ill.

Say that again? The further around you turn your head when you smell [other people’s smells] the more you appreciate a political leader that makes sure you don’t have to smell “other” people.

Usually, I take smell-in-the-news with a grain of salt. Reason being, smell is too misunderstood of a sense to make groundbreaking discoveries in psychology by way of its perceptual channel. Usually also, I take behavioral /social psychology in the news with another grain of salt. The reason for that is the replication crisis in psychology (particularly social psychology, similar to behavioral psychology).

That being said, Jonas Olofsson of Stockholm University has an interesting idea. Disgust is a powerful emotion, and one that can, or should, be easily tested via smell. A little etymology digression – disgust comes from gustation which is about taste and eating and satiation, and to figure out what’s good to eat is one of the few main reasons why we smell, or so it seems. That natural behavior of determining what’s good to eat extrapolates into all kinds of other behaviors, one of them possibly being who to vote for.

Psychological theories about disgust and (American) conservativism have been around for quite some time, but this is a different approach. Check it out for yourself and see what you think.

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