doone pointed out an interesting article on ScienceDaily that discusses some recent studies that found a correlation between ones sensitivity to being disgusted and how conservative/liberal ones opinion is on certain topics.
From the article:
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 also found a weak correlation between disgust sensitivity and support for tax cuts, but no link between disgust sensitivity and the other issues.
And in a separate study in the current issue of the journal Emotion, Pizarro and colleagues found a link between higher disgust sensitivity and disapproval of gays and lesbians. For this study, the researchers used implicit measures (measures that have been shown to assess attitudes people may be unwilling to report explicitly; or that they may not even know they possess).
The article concludes: The research speaks to a need for caution when forming moral judgments, Pizarro added. "Disgust really is about protecting yourself from disease; it didn't really evolve for the purpose of human morality," he said. "It clearly has become central to morality, but because of its origins in contamination and avoidance, we should be wary about its influences."
I was awestruck by this article. It has really solved one of the most frustrating questions in human interaction I've ever had.
Mainly it's the 'what the hell is wrong with you?' issue I have when it comes to some people. My boyfriend (who is also homophobic) is terrified of snakes. So is his uncle. I've got a picture of me with a very large banana python I used to care for at a wildlife foundation (A really nice pic, actually) that he won't even let me keep in the house. This drives me nuts, because I'm exasperated by stupid phobias. Spiders? Why would I fear anything I'm 1000x it's body mass?
For some people, there is this irrational, impractical trigger in their brain that clicks. Maybe that's why homophobia is relatively rare in atheists. We are by nature practical, rational people.
I wonder how many atheists have other phobias. We should take a poll!