An orderly personality partially explains the link between trait disgust and political conservatism

Xiaowen Xu*, Annika K. Karinen, Hanah A. Chapman, Jordan B. Peterson, Jason E. Plaks

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Individuals who are more easily disgusted tend to be more politically conservative. Individuals who have a preference for order also tend to be more politically conservative. In the present research, we hypothesised that these three variables are psychologically interrelated. Specifically, trait disgust encourages a generalised search for order, which, in turn, encourages the endorsement of political positions that aim to maintain societal order. Taking an individual differences approach, we operationalised the preference for order via Orderliness, one aspect of the Big Five trait Conscientiousness. Across six samples (total N = 1485), participants completed measures of trait disgust, aspect/trait personality, and political orientation. Analyses revealed that Orderliness was a consistent mediator of the association between trait disgust and conservatism. Analyses of subscales of disgust revealed preliminary evidence that Orderliness most consistently mediated the relationships between Contamination, Pathogen, and Sexual disgust and conservatism. These data suggest that disgust-sensitive people extend their preference for order in the physical environment (e.g. tidying up one's room) to the sociopolitical environment (e.g. strengthening traditional norms). The present findings illustrate one way in which emotional, cognitive, and personality processes work together to influence political orientation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-315
Number of pages14
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number2
Early online date12 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • conservatism
  • Orderliness
  • personality
  • political ideology
  • Trait disgust


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