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We introduce the Politics and the Life Sciences Special Issue on Disgust and Political Attitudes discussing the importance of understanding state and trait disgust, the innovative and transparent process by which registered reports and preregistered studies were chosen and funded, and the manuscripts that make up this special issue. This essay concludes by discussing future research directions in disgust and political attitudes, as well as the benefits of a transparent review process that avoids the “file drawer problem” of unpublished null findings.
Disgust is derived from evolutionary processes to avoid pathogen contamination. Theories of gender differences in pathogen disgust utilize both evolutionary psychological and sociocultural perspectives. Drawing on research that suggests that masculine and feminine gender identities are somewhat orthogonal, we examine how gender identity intersects with pathogen disgust. In addition, building on evolutionary psychological and sociocultural accounts of how caregiving and parental investment affect pathogen disgust, we present a new measure of caregiving disgust and compare its properties across gender, parental status, and political ideology with those of a conventional pathogen disgust measure. This registered report finds that how masculinity and femininity affect disgust varies by gender, disgust domain, and their intersection; that parental status effects vary by disgust domain but not gender; that reframing disgust in terms of caregiving eliminates the gender gap in disgust; and that the caregiving frame unexpectedly strengthens the relationship between disgust and political ideology.
Many U.S. states have proposed policies that restrict bathroom access to an individual’s birth sex. These policies have had widespread effects on safety for transgender and gender-nonconforming people, as well as on state economies. In this registered report, we assessed the role of disgust in support for policies that restrict transgender bathroom access. We found that sensitivity to pathogen disgust was positively associated with support for bathroom restrictions; sexual and injury disgust were unrelated. We also examined the role of disgust-driven moral concerns, known as purity concerns, as well as harm-related moral concerns in support for bathroom restrictions. While concerns about harm to cisgender and transgender people predicted support for bathroom restrictions, purity was a much stronger predictor. Also, purity partially mediated the link between pathogen disgust and support for bathroom restrictions, even after accounting for harm concerns. Findings and implications are discussed.
What causes people to see their political attitudes in a moral light? One answer is that attitude moralization results from associating one’s attitude stance with feelings of disgust. To test the possibility that disgust moralizes, the current study used a high-powered preregistered design looking at within-person change in moral conviction paired with an experimental manipulation of disgust or anger (versus control). Results from the preregistered analyses found that we successfully induced anger but not disgust; however, our manipulation had no effect on moral conviction. Additional exploratory analyses investigating whether emotion and harm predicted increases in moral conviction over time found that neither disgust, anger, nor sadness had an effect on moralization, whereas perceptions of harm did predict moralization. Our findings are discussed in terms of their implications for current theory and research into attitude moralization.
In the political domain, disgust is primarily portrayed as an emotion that explains individual differences in pathogen avoidance. We hypothesized that political rhetoric accusing opponents of moral transgressions also elicits disgust responses. In this registered report, we present the results from a laboratory experiment. We find that participants self-report higher disgust and have stronger physiological (Levator labii) responses to pictures of out-party leaders compared with in-party leaders. Participants also report higher disgust in response to moral violations of in-party leaders. There is more suggestive evidence that in-party leaders evoke more labii activity when they commit moral violations than when out-party leaders do. The impact of individual differences in moral disgust and partisanship strength is very limited to absent. Intriguingly, on average, the physiological and self-reported disgust responses to the treatment are similar, but individuals differ in whether their response is physiological or cognitive. This motivates further theorizing regarding the concordance of emotional responses.
Recent advances in gene editing technology promise much for medical advances and human well-being. However, in parallel domains, there have been objections to the use of such biotechnologies. Moreover, the psychological factors that govern the willingness to use gene editing technology have been underexplored to date. In this registered report, we sought to test whether pathogen disgust sensitivity is linked with opposition to gene editing. U.K.-based adult participants (N = 347) were recruited to this study. Gene editing attitudes reflected two largely distinct latent factors concerning enhancing human traits and treating medical disorders. In contrast to prediction, pathogen disgust sensitivity was related to greater support for gene editing in both of these domains. This result suggests that gene editing, at least in the current study, is not viewed as pathogenic, or that the perceived benefits of gene editing outweigh any perceived pathogen risk.
Disgust has been consistently associated with greater political conservatism. Two explanations have been proposed for this link. According to a pathogen threat model, disgust serves a pathogen-avoidance function, encouraging more conservative ideology, whereas a sexual strategies model suggests that this link is explained by variability in short-term versus long-term mating goals. In two preregistered studies using a college student and community sample (total N = 1,950), we examined whether experimentally manipulating pathogen threat and mate availability produced differences in political ideology and whether these differences were explained by disgust and sociosexual attitudes. Across both studies, we did not find evidence that manipulating pathogen threat or mate availability resulted in change in political ideology. In Study 1, manipulating mate availability was indirectly associated with greater political conservativism through stronger sociosexual attitudes that favor monogamy. These findings failed to replicate in Study 2. Implications for theory and future research are discussed.
PsychTable.org is a new online, mass-collaborative tool for the social sciences that aggregates evidence for and classifies the evolved psychological adaptations (EPAs) that have been proposed to comprise the human mind. This article provides an overview of the need for this reference tool and how it can benefit researchers who incorporate the behavioral sciences into their work. The article walks the reader through a hypothetical use case for PsychTable.org and describes the features of the website. PsychTable.org is intended to help key stakeholders better understand the linkages between EPAs and political behavior, public policy, and ethics.
Introduction: Emergency Department (ED) health care professionals are responsible for providing team-based care to critically ill patients. Given this complex responsibility, simulation training is paramount. In situ simulation (ISS) has many cited benefits as a training strategy that targets on-duty staff and occurs in the actual patient environment. Several evidence-based frameworks identify staff buy-in as essential for successful ISS implementation, however, the attitudes of interdisciplinary front-line ED staff in this regard are unknown. The purpose of this study is to identify contextual trends in interdisciplinary opinions on routine ISS in the ED. Methods: Qualitative and quantitative review, exploring the self-reported attitudes of interdisciplinary ED staff: before, during and after the implementation of a routine ISS pilot program (5 sessions in 5 months) at the Charles V Keating Emergency and Trauma Center in Halifax from Feb-Nov, 2018. Results: 149 surveys were received. Baseline support for ISS was high; 83% of respondents believed that the advantages of ISS outweigh the challenges and 47% favoured simulation in the ED, relative the sim bay (26%) and 28% were indifferent. The attitudes of direct participants in ISS were very positive, with 88% believing that the benefits outweighed the challenges after participation and 91% believing that they personally benefited from participating. A department wide post-ISS pilot survey suggested a slight decrease in support. Support for ISS dropped from 83% to 67%, a statistically insignificant reduction (p = 0.098) but a sizeable change that warrants further investigation. Most notably respondents reported increased support for simulation training in a simulation bay relative to ISS in the ED. Respondents still regarded simulation highly overall. Interestingly, when the results were stratified by position, staff physicians were the least positive. Conclusion: Pre-pilot or baseline opinions of ISS were very positive, and participants all responded positively to the simulations. This study generates valuable insight into the perceptions of interdisciplinary ED staff regarding the implementation and perceived impact of routine ISS. This evidence can be used to inform future programming, though further investigation is warranted into why opinions post-intervention may have changed at the department level.
In an on-demand media environment, the 2016 presidential primary debates provided a ratings and economic boost to host networks surpassing all prior primary debates and even major sporting events in viewership. In turn, millions of viewers were exposed to and subtly influenced by the ways in which these candidates were visually presented. We analyze how the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates were presented in their initial two debates (Fox News and CNN; CNN and CBS, respectively). Candidates are considered in terms of visual priming through aggregate camera time and average camera fixation time and how contenders were visually framed through the proportion of different camera shot types used (solo, split screen, side by side, multiple candidate, and audience reaction). Findings suggest that while the front-runners from both political parties benefited from preferential visual coverage, Donald Trump stood out in terms of the visual priming and framing that presented him as a serious contender.
The 2016 Republican Party presidential primary debates were unprecedented in the amount of media and public interest they generated. Substantially driven by curiosity about reality television celebrity Donald Trump, the initial debates hosted by FOX News and CNN both reflected and validated interest in his candidacy while proffering attention to a full slate of more traditional presidential contenders in front of boisterous audiences. This study considers these audiences’ response. Whether applause, laughter, booing, or combinations thereof, these group utterances provide a reliable metric by which insights may be derived concerning partisan attitudes towards Trump and the other candidates, as well as the unity of the Republican Party. Findings suggest that the debate setting in concert with the demographics of the in-person audience may well have influenced initial response to the candidates and as a result have subtle yet lingering consequences for the 2016 presidential election.
Reliability is set to become a major concern on emergent large-scale architectures. While there are many parallel languages, and indeed many parallel functional languages, very few address reliability. The notable exception is the widely emulated Erlang distributed actor model that provides explicit supervision and recovery of actors with isolated state. We investigate scalable transparent fault tolerant functional computation with automatic supervision and recovery of tasks. We do so by developing HdpH-RS, a variant of the Haskell distributed parallel Haskell (HdpH) DSL with Reliable Scheduling. Extending the distributed work stealing protocol of HdpH for task supervision and recovery is challenging. To eliminate elusive concurrency bugs, we validate the HdpH-RS work stealing protocol using the SPIN model checker. HdpH-RS differs from the actor model in that its principal entities are tasks, i.e. independent stateless computations, rather than isolated stateful actors. Thanks to statelessness, fault recovery can be performed automatically and entirely hidden in the HdpH-RS runtime system. Statelessness is also key for proving a crucial property of the semantics of HdpH-RS: fault recovery does not change the result of the program, akin to deterministic parallelism. HdpH-RS provides a simple distributed fork/join-style programming model, with minimal exposure of fault tolerance at the language level, and a library of higher level abstractions such as algorithmic skeletons. In fact, the HdpH-RS DSL is exactly the same as the HdpH DSL, hence users can opt in or out of fault tolerant execution without any refactoring. Computations in HdpH-RS are always as reliable as the root node, no matter how many nodes and cores are actually used. We benchmark HdpH-RS on conventional clusters and an High Performance Computing platform: all benchmarks survive Chaos Monkey random fault injection; the system scales well e.g. up to 1,400 cores on the High Performance Computing; reliability and recovery overheads are consistently low even at scale.
The smiles and affiliative expressions of presidential candidates are important for political success, allowing contenders to nonverbally connect with potential supporters and bond with followers. Smiles, however, are not unitary displays; they are multifaceted in composition and signaling intent due to variations in performance. With this in mind, we examine the composition and perception of smiling behavior by Republican presidential candidates during the 2012 preprimary period. In this paper we review literature concerning different smile types and the muscular movements that compose them from a biobehavioral perspective. We then analyze smiles expressed by Republican presidential candidates early in the 2012 primary season by coding facial muscle activity at the microlevel using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) to produce an inventory of politically relevant smile types. To validate the subtle observed differences between smile types, we show viewers a series of short video clips to differentiate displays on the basis of their perceived reassurance, or social signaling. The discussion considers the implications of our findings in relation to political evaluation and communication efficacy.