The International Dimensions of Political Ideology


The study specifically explored the associations between political ideology at its national and international dimensions and disgust —and more specifically, sexual disgust.

Research Questions / Hypotheses

We hypothesise that higher scores of sexual disgust will predict higher levels of conservatism at the national level —much in line with extant literature. On the other hand, at the international level, we hypothesise that higher scores of sexual disgust will predict resistance against cooperative behaviours, but will not favour militaristic nor isolationist attitudes.


A total of 242 participants completed the study. There was only one screening criterium due to the nature of our questions on Australian foreign policy: participants must be AUS citizens    Three exclusion criteria were applied to guarantee data quality collection and correct participation: time completion (i.e., participants should have taken around 30 minutes to answer all questions, any participation below 30 minutes was verified by the research to assure correct completion of the survey), and two simple qualitative questions that worked as attention checks.


We use an online survey with questions on morality (MFT, Hunter Divine Authority Scale, and Moral Politics Family Scale), values (Schwartz's Values inventory), disgust (Three Disgust Domain Scale), and sexual disgust (Six Dimensions of Disgust Scale). As for our dependent variables, we use general questions on foreign policy, ideological self-placement to 54 items, and political knowledge.


Correlational analyses show that higher scores of sexual disgust predict higher levels of conservatism. At the international level, however, results are still inconclusive. Our data show evidence that higher scores of sexual disgust predict resistance against cooperative behaviours, although we're still not able to distinguish which factors of sexual disgust are responsible for such effects.


The extant literature on political ideology and disgust has gathered evidence of correlations between conservatism and sexual disgust. More specifically, ideological attitudes are stronger towards those subjects involving outgroups (e.g., homosexuals) and socio-cultural subjects that may elicit pathogenic-oriented responses (e.g., policies targeting the poorer fringes of society).    At the international level, however, we sail through unknown waters. This is the first series of studies to tackle how disgust influences attitudes towards international affairs. In previous studies, we found evidence that across-cultures, sexual disgust plays a role in how people's attitudes towards foreign policies are shaped. In this specific study, we've been able to clarify that unusual sexual practices are more salient to opposition to military engagement. We still need, however, to refine our models to understand the nuances of such a relationship.