Study leader David Pizarro of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and co-authors Yoel Inbar of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and Paul Bloom of Yale University surveyed 181 U.S. adults from politically mixed swing states.
Study participants completed the Disgust Sensitivity Scale, which offers various scenarios to assess disgust sensitivity, and a political ideology scale.
The study, published in the journal Cognition & Emotion, found a correlation between being more easily disgusted and political conservatism.
The researchers surveyed 91 Cornell undergraduates with the Disgust Sensitivity Scale, as well as with questions about their positions on issues including gay marriage, abortion, gun control, labor unions, tax cuts and affirmative action.
The participants who rated higher in disgust sensitivity were more likely to oppose gay marriage and abortion -- issues that are related to notions of morality or purity. The researchers said they also found a weak correlation between disgust sensitivity and support for tax cuts, but no link between disgust sensitivity and the other issues.
"Disgust really is about protecting yourself from disease; it didn't really evolve for the purpose of human morality," Pizarro said in a statement. "It clearly has become central to morality, but because of its origins in contamination and avoidance, we should be wary about its influences."