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May 21, 2014 04:53 PM EDT

Disgusting Odors Linked To Social Conservatism


Exposure to disgusting odors may increase social conservatism, according to a recent study Campus Reform reported.

A recent study called "Disgust and the Politics of Sex" by researchers from the University of Arkansas found that repugnant smells directly "correlate with political conservatism and a general disdain of specific social groups-in particular, homosexuals," Campus Reform reported.

"Disgust sensitivity and reactivity have been shown to relate to political conservatism generally and have been implicated in negative and hostile attitudes towards a range of social out-groups, particularly homosexuals," researchers said in the study. "In keeping with the aforementioned research, some have suggested that disgust is specifically related to conservative attitudes that pertain to social or moral purity, and, in particular, sexual purity."

For the study, researchers collected data from just 57 participants. Twenty-seven of the volunteers were exposed to a stench of rancid butter and sweat, while the remaining study participants were not.

They were then given a questionnaire comprised of moral and sexual situations. They were also asked to rate the scenarios and ideas on a scale of "not disgusting at all" to "extremely disgusting."

Investigators found that nearly 26 percent of those exposed to the stench of butter subscribed to strict conservative ideologies as well as responded "negatively to same-sex marriage, pornography and premarital sex questions."

Researchers said those exposed to the smell typically agreed more with "Biblical truth."

"The finding that belief in Biblical truth was greater among participants in the disgust odor condition was unexpected but is nonetheless consistent with previous work showing a relation between disgust and scrupulosity or being careful to avoid doing wrong," researchers said in the study.

Researchers said it is possible that "some forms of political conservatism, particularly those related to sex and sexuality, are basic and inherent in some populations and can readily emerge under threatening or taxing conditions."

The findings were recently published in PLOS One, a peer-reviewed research publication featuring reports on science and medicine.

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