Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) comes in all shapes and sizes – from Monica Geller in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. to Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory.
Now, amidst all of the compromises and sacrifices that people suffering from OCD and those surrounding them undergo, studies reveal that sufferers of the disorder not only have an obsessive compulsive need for order, but also for lack of diversity.
Scientists from the Yale University have found via their extensive research that people who cannot deal with OCD are more prone to being socially prejudiced. In simpler terms, OCD can lead to excessive racism.
People with OCD pertaining to tidiness and symmetry — whose pet peeves include mess, disorderly strewn clothes, and even lopsided pictures or crooked images — are the ones who might harbour negative views against ethnic minorities and people who don't necessarily "fit in."
A series of eight experiments were conducted on American and Chinese children and adults, and the results showed people who weren't too keen on geometric oddities also maintained a high score level when it came to an aversion for social diversity. That is, they were most likely to discriminate.
These participants had to respond to images of broken visual patterns and fictional scenarios with vivid social differences. For example, one of the scenarios was in a city full of obese people, cross-dressers and also people with severe skin conditions.
The experts found a link between higher distaste for lack of pattern and intense aversion for people who are not considered conventionally "normal" as per societal norms.
Anton Gollwitzer, the lead author, said: "The research does provide a simple potential explanation for why people feel uneasy around and dislike people who deviate from societal norms."
While this is no attempt to shame people for a disorder that's completely beyond their conscious control — because a tidy home doesn't mean a raging racist or a homophobe — it does strike one how certain extremist political groups are obsessed with order when it comes to uniforms and marching.
OCD, however, is a lot more complicated than just a need for tidiness or order. It is a condition that relies solely on routinely performing something over and over again. And of course, so are conservative beliefs that have been carried on for years.