Thinking about magical thinking and disgust sensitivity…

There were 32 tasks featured in the study. Here are a few of the more interesting ones:

-Willingness to wear a Nazi hat.

-Willingness to eat chocolate fudge in the shape of dog feces.

-Willingness to put a fake gun to one’s head and pull the trigger


And here is what Rozin et a., say about magical thinking in their 1999 paper:

Disgust is closely linked to sympathetic magical thinking. Disgusting entities contaminate things they touch, illustrating the sympathetic magical law of contagion: ‘‘once in contact, always in contact’’ (Frazer, 1890/1959; Mauss, 1902/1972; Rozin, Millman, & Nemeroff, 1986; Rozin & Nemeroff, 1990). Responses to disgusting entities are so strong that disgust often generalizes to entities that are not inherently disgusting, but look like disgusting things. Thus, people feel disgust toward objects like imitation feces made of plastic or chocolate (Rozin, Millman, & Nemeroff, 1986) or a synthetic mucus like liquid, even though the observer knows the objects are not what they seem. This reaction illustrates the sympathetic law of similarity, which holds, in one form, that appearance is reality (e.g., if it looks like dog feces, it is dog feces). Many of the most common elicitors of disgust are effective by virtue of the laws of sympathetic magic. For example, a disgust reaction to wearing clean clothing previously worn by a disliked person involves the law of contagion.

Rozin, P., Haidt, J., McCauley, C., Dunlop, L., & Ashmore, M . (1999). Individual differences in disgust sensitivity: Comparisons and evaluations of paper-and-pencil versus behavioral measures. Journal of Research in Personality, 33, 330-351



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