Monday, September 10, 2007

Conservative/Liberal brain activity


Now, I know the most cynical of you out there are saying, "In politics, there is no brain activity." (image credit) And, I bet there are a good percentage of Americans that agree with you. But, I thought that this was an interesting study reported by AFP.
Conservatives tend to crave order and structure in their lives, and are more consistent in the way they make decisions. Liberals, by contrast, show a higher tolerance for ambiguity and complexity, and adapt more easily to unexpected circumstances.

The affinity between political views and "cognitive style" has also been shown to be heritable, handed down from parents to children, said the study, published in the British journal Nature Neuroscience.
In this study, they took 43 right-handed subjects and asked them to perform a series of computer tasks to see how they would do when they had to break from a well-established routine.
The match-up was unmistakable: respondents who had described themselves as liberals showed "significantly greater conflict-related neural activity" when the hypothetical situation called for an unscheduled break in routine.

Conservatives, however, were less flexible, refusing to deviate from old habits "despite signals that this ... should be changed."

Whether that is good or bad, of course, depends on one's perspective: one could interpret the results to mean that liberals are nimble-minded and conservatives rigid and stubborn.

Or one could, with equal justice, conclude that wishy-washy liberals don't stick to their guns, while conservatives and steadfast and loyal.
The late night comedians will have a field day with this. For me, there are just too many jokes around (pointed both at conservatives and liberals) for me to pick from. Maybe I'll come up with something later....

5 comments:

Mauigirl said...

Hi, I found you through Mimiwrites. This was a fascinating study, I had seen it as well. I was thinking of posting something about it, but I write both a political blog and a medical blog and I wasn't sure which one to post this on, LOL!

Ms. Mom said...

I definitely try to keep politics to a minimum in the office. We are in a perpetual battle whether to turn on CNN or Fox in the waiting room. And believe it or not, it's one of the docs who actually wants CNN.

Ms. MOM @MOMrants.com

gay CME guy said...

And, so the study discriminates against us Left-handed people?! Must have been administered by a conservative. ;)

Visionary & Medium Extraordinaire said...

Fascinating study!
I'm not surprised by it though. Conservatives will dig in their heals till they go blue in their faces (just look at Bush)
Also most performers and artists tend to be Liberals, they go with the flow and work on a lot of different things at the same time.

Once someone told me about a study about gays, that there is a higher percentage of gays that are left handed

Most people in my profession tend to be liberals, as they go with the flow most of the time.
I've done brain imgaging studies through Harvard Uni and they said even my brain lit up differently ;) interesting stuff!

gay CME guy said...

Interesting Visionary, you wouldn't happen to know any more/details about that LH-Gay study, would you? It's a hypothesis that I've had for a long time, from my own anecdotal observation. Left-handers are supposed to be ~ 10% of the population, and gays are also supposed to be ~10% of the population (not the same 10 %). My observations are that a lot of the gays I know (I'm speaking of men only) are Left-handed.
Left-handedness is one of the first things I will notice/remember about a person.