NCBI ROFL: Gross gods and icky atheism: Disgust responses to rejected religious beliefs.

By ncbi rofl | October 27, 2011 8:15 pm

“Disgust is an emotional response that helps to maintain and protect physical and spiritual purity by signaling contamination and motivating the restoration of personal cleanliness. In the present research we predicted that disgust may be elicited by contact with outgroup religious beliefs, as these beliefs pose a threat to spiritual purity. Two experiments tested this prediction using a repeated taste-test paradigm in which participants tasted and rated a drink before and after copying a passage from an outgroup religion. In Experiment 1, Christian participants showed increased disgust after writing a passage from the Qur’an or Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, but not a control text. Experiment 2 replicated this effect, and also showed that contact with an ingroup religious belief (Christians copying from the Bible) did not elicit disgust. Moreover, Experiment 2 showed that disgust to rejected beliefs was eliminated when participants were allowed to wash their hands after copying the passage, symbolically restoring spiritual cleanliness. Together, these results provide evidence that contact with rejected religious beliefs elicits disgust by symbolically violating spiritual purity. Implications for intergroup relations between religious groups is discussed, and the role of disgust in the protection of beliefs that hold moral value.”

Photo: flickr/tonystl
Thanks to bboybutzemann for today’s ROFL!

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me, holy correlation, NCBI ROFL
  • parrtown

    I’d like to see the results if humanists or ‘free thinkers’ were given the test. Maybe this test is valid only with Christians – or maybe a particular type of Christians.
    Totally bogus ‘experiment’.

    • Graham Poulter

      I think the test is valid for encounters with out-group beliefs that contradict strongly-held in-group beliefs.

      You may find “free thinkers” disgusted after copying a passage from a creationist textbook or conservapedia.

  • Rachel Quinn

    I’m disgusted that resources of any kind were spent on this. Dare I ask what their operative definition was for “spiritual purity,” or if it was even defined at all?

    Besides, this has already been covered in a(n appropriately) scientific context:

  • Holytape

    I wonder what would happen if the same thing would happen if these participates copied old Greek and Norse myths.   Or with the text of a certain delicious flying god.  Since these myths are more accepted to be false and there for not as much of a threat would the disgust reaction be as strong?

  • Neal Patel

    Most of the time, I’m disgusted by their dogma and stupidity. But some beliefs, like the FSM, are just plain funny.


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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