Induced disgust affects implicit and explicit responses toward gay men and lesbians

Authors


Correspondence to: Catherine A. Forestell, Department of Psychology, The College of William & Mary, PO Box 8745, Williamsburg, VA 23187, USA.

E-mail: caforestell@wm.edu

Abstract

In the current study, disgust was induced using a carefully controlled odor manipulation to observe its effect on participants' implicit and explicit responses to homosexuals. Participants were presented with a vial containing an odor that was described as “body odor” (n = 47) that induced a high level of disgust, or “parmesan cheese” (n = 43) that induced a moderate level of disgust, or an odor-free vial (n = 53). Subsequently, participants viewed images of homosexual and heterosexual couples, and their viewing times and ratings of the images' pleasantness were recorded. Additionally, they completed a “feelings thermometer” task, the Attitudes Toward Lesbians and Gay Men scale that assessed feelings toward homosexuals, and the Three-Domain Disgust Scale to measure sensitivity along three dimensions of disgust (pathogen, moral, and sexual). Results indicated that those in the body odor condition viewed images of gay (but not lesbian) couples for less time relative to images of heterosexual couples compared with participants in the other two conditions. With respect to explicit ratings, participants in the body odor condition reported colder feelings for gay relative to heterosexual men on the feelings thermometer compared with those in the no-odor control condition. For pleasantness ratings, the odor manipulation served as a moderator, such that for those in the body odor condition only, higher sensitivity to sexual disgust predicted lower ratings for images of lesbian couples relative to straight couples. Thus, although induction of disgust biases implicit and explicit responses to gay couples, the degree to which this occurs for explicit ratings of lesbian couples depends on levels of sexual disgust. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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