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Title:Gross Gods and Icky Atheism: Disgust Responses to Rejected Religious Beliefs
Author(s):Ritter, Ryan S.
Advisor(s):Preston, Jesse L.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Religious Belief
Abstract:Disgust is an emotion that plays an important role in the maintenance and protection of physical and moral purity (Rozin, Lowery, Imada, & Haidt, 1999b). Using a repeated taste-test paradigm, the present research extends recent work on moral cognition by investigating disgust reactions to rejected religious beliefs. In Experiment 1, Christian participants rated a beverage as tasting more disgusting after writing a passage from the text of the Qur’an or Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion than a control text. In Experiment 2, Christian participants rated a drink as tasting more disgusting after writing a passage from the Qur’an than a control passage, but the effect was eliminated after participants physically washed their hands. Participants writing a passage from the Bible showed the opposite effect of more disgust after washing their hands, indicating an aversive reaction to physical cleansing after contact with a source of moral purity. These results provide evidence that contact with a rejected religious belief elicits disgust and that both negative and positive moral contagions can be removed through physical cleansing. The implications of the results are discussed, including the possibility that holding true beliefs is an important component of one’s sense of moral purity, and that disgust helps protect these culturally valued truths.
Issue Date:2011-01-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2010 Ryan S. Ritter
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-01-14
Date Deposited:December 2

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