Could a lack of clean air or the smell of sewage be turning people into homophobes?
In a somewhat bizarre study, researchers have concluded that people who live in smelly environments tend to be more homophobic and socially conservative.
Psychologists and scientists from the University of Arkansas picked 57 participants and randomly placed one group in an odourless room and the other in a disgusting-smelling one (filled with the odour of vomit).
They then proceeded to ask the individuals questions about their political and social views.
The researchers discovered that those in the foul smelling room tended to be much less tolerant of gay marriage and gay relationships.
They also tended to express more generally socially conservative and traditional Biblical views.
“Disgust has an important, causal relationship with political attitudes concerning sexual conduct,” suggested the researchers.
“It is possible that exposure to a disgusting odorant caused increased feelings of disgust, which in turn activated the harm avoidance system and motivated a desire for purity (cleanliness).”
They added: “Once these two systems were activated, it is possible that participants began to adopt attitudes that they perceived as decreasing social harm and/or increasing moral purity.”
The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.