Is Disgust a “Conservative” Emotion?

Julia Elad-Strenger, Jutta Proch, Thomas Kessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Extant political–psychological research has identified stable, context-independent differences between conservatives and liberals in a wide range of preferences and psychological processes. One consistent finding is that conservatives show higher disgust sensitivity than liberals. This finding, however, is predominantly based on assessments of disgust to specific elicitors, which confound individuals’ sensitivity and propensity to the experience of disgust with the extent to which they find specific elicitors disgusting. Across five studies, we vary specific elicitors of disgust, showing that the relations between political orientation and disgust sensitivity depend on the specific set of elicitors used. We also show that disgust sensitivity is not associated with political orientation when measured with an elicitor-unspecific scale. Taken together, our findings suggest that the differences between conservatives and liberals in disgust sensitivity are context dependent rather than a stable personality difference. Broader theoretical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)896-912
Number of pages17
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.


  • conservatism
  • disgust
  • liberalism
  • social norms


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