Nicholas Kristof in The Times:
If you want to tell whether someone is conservative or liberal, what are a couple of completely nonpolitical questions that will give a good clue?
How’s this: Would you be willing to slap your father in the face, with his permission, as part of a comedy skit?
And, second: Does it disgust you to touch the faucet in a public restroom?
Studies suggest that conservatives are more often distressed by actions that seem disrespectful of authority, such as slapping Dad. Liberals don’t worry as long as Dad has given permission.
Likewise, conservatives are more likely than liberals to sense contamination or perceive disgust. People who would be disgusted to find that they had accidentally sipped from an acquaintance’s drink are more likely to identify as conservatives.
The upshot is that liberals and conservatives don’t just think differently, they also feel differently. This may even be a result, in part, of divergent neural responses...
One of the main divides between left and right is the dependence on different moral values. For liberals, morality derives mostly from fairness and prevention of harm. For conservatives, morality also involves upholding authority and loyalty — and revulsion at disgust...
Psychologists have developed a “disgust scale” based on how queasy people would be in 27 situations, such as stepping barefoot on an earthworm or smelling urine in a tunnel. Conservatives systematically register more disgust than liberals. (To see how you weigh factors in moral decisions, take the tests at www.yourmorals.org.).
Like a conservative, I would never hit my father, even if he agreed to it. But, like a liberal, I would be untroubled if I accidentally shared a glass with an acquaintance at a party (unless we were on the verge of a swine flu pandemic). Maybe this explains my middle-of-the-road politics.
I've posted my results for a few of the morality and thinking surveys. The green bar represents my results compared with all other survey-takers (purple bar), self-identified liberals (blue bar) and conservatives (red bar).