SPLTRAK Abstract Submission
Body Odor Disgust Sensitivity is Associated with Prejudice Towards a Fictive Group of Immigrants
Marta Zakrzewska1, Jonas Olofsson1, Torun Lindholm2, Anna Blomkvist2, Marco Tulio Liuzza3
1Gösta Ekman Laboratory, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
2 Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
3"Magna Graecia" University of Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy

Why are certain individuals persistent in opposing immigration? The behavioral immune system framework implies that a psychological mechanism, which adapted to detect and avoid pathogen threats, is also reflected in contemporary social attitudes. Moreover, prejudice towards outgroups might be partially driven by implicit pathogen concerns related to dissimilarity of these groups’ hygiene and food preparation practices. Disgust, a universal core emotion supposedly evolved to avoid pathogen threats, as well as olfaction, both play a pivotal role in evoking disgust. In an online study (N = 800), we investigated whether individual differences in body odor disgust sensitivity (BODS) correlate with negative attitudes towards a fictive refugee group. Participants completed questionnaires regarding their body odor disgust sensitivity, prejudice towards a fictive refugee group and attitudes towards immigrants in general. We used a Bayesian approach for parameter estimation and hypothesis testing (i.e., the Bayes factor) and tested our hypothesis via Bayesian regression models. Additionally, we used structural equation modelling (SEM) to confirm our theoretical model. The data analysis plan and hypotheses were preregistered on the Open Science Framework (OSF, fsbna/). Results show that body odor disgust sensitivity is associated with xenophobia: BODS was positively associated with negative attitudes towards the fictive group. This relationship was partially mediated by perceived dissimilarities of the group in terms of hygiene and food preparation. Our finding suggests prejudice might be rooted in sensory mechanisms.