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The findings revealed complex emotions, indeed.

“Conservatives have argued that there is inherent wisdom in repugnance; that feeling disgusted about something — gay sex between consenting adults, for example — is cause enough to judge it wrong or immoral, even lacking a concrete reason,” Mr. Pizarro said.

“Liberals tend to disagree, and are more likely to base judgments on whether an action or a thing causes actual harm.”

He speculated that the link between disgust and moral judgment could help explain stark differences in values among Americans — and be of interest to canny political strategists. He added that the findings “could offer strategies for persuading some to change their views.”

The research was published in Cognition and Emotion and Emotion, two academic journals, and funded solely by Cornell University.

The inner leanings of conservatives and liberals, meanwhile, have drawn interest in other circles. In a study of 170 employees and students released in September, New York University psychologist John T. Jost found that conservatives favor tidy offices and living spaces, while liberals are more comfortable with cluttered desks and splashy colors.

“The findings reported here add to a growing body of literature suggesting that ideological differences are more than ‘skin deep.’ … As a general rule, liberals are more open-minded in their pursuit of creativity, novelty and diversity, whereas conservatives lead lives that are more orderly, conventional and better-organized,” the study said.