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Differences in conservatives’ and liberals’  brains
Posted: 15 February 2013 11:01 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Interesting research.


Liberals and conservatives exhibit different cognitive styles and converging lines of evidence suggest that biology influences differences in their political attitudes and beliefs. In particular, a recent study of young adults suggests that liberals and conservatives have significantly different brain structure, with liberals showing increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, and conservatives showing increased gray matter volume in the in the amygdala. Here, we explore differences in brain function in liberals anconservatives by matching publicly-available voter records to 82 subjects who performed a risk-taking task during functional imaging. Although the risk-taking behavior of Democrats (liberals) and Republicans (conservatives) did not differ, their brain activity did. Democrats showed significantly greater activity in the left insula, while Republicans showed significantly greater activity in the  right amygdala.

Democrats showed significantly greater activity in the left insula, *a region associated with social and self-awareness*. Meanwhile Republicans showed significantly greater activity in the right amygdala, a region involved in the body’s *fight-or-flight system.* These results suggest that liberals and conservatives engage different cognitive processes when they think about risk.

In fact, brain activity in these two regions alone can be used to predict whether a person is a Democrat or Republican with 82.9% accuracy. By comparison, the longstanding traditional model in political science, which uses the party affiliation of a person’s mother and father to predict the child’s affiliation, is only accurate about 69.5% of the time. And another model based on the differences in brain structure distinguishes liberal from conservatives with only 71.6% accuracy.

The model also outperforms models based on differences in genes. “Although genetics have been shown to contribute to differences in political ideology and strength of party politics, the portion of variation in political affiliation explained by activity in the amygdala and insula is significantly larger, suggesting that affiliating with a political party and engaging in a partisan environment may alter the brain, above and beyond the effect of heredity.”  (Schreiber D, Fonzo G, Simmons AN, Dawes CT, Flagan T, et al. (2013) Red Brain, Blue Brain: Evaluative Processes Differ in Democrats and Republicans. PLoS ONE 8(2): e52970. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052970)


http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0052970#pone.0052970-Jost2

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Posted: 16 February 2013 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Chris Mooney who does Point of Inquiry has written about this extensively in his book Republican Brain.

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Posted: 16 February 2013 10:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Does this mean there are only two types of brains?

psik

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Posted: 16 February 2013 11:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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psikeyhackr - 16 February 2013 10:31 AM

Does this mean there are only two types of brains?

psik

question

If I say there’s a difference between red and blue, that doesn’t mean there are only two colors.

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Posted: 16 February 2013 01:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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And that goes along with my theory.  Since it’s been shown that Neanderthals mated with Cromagnons, my theory is that the Ns were much more oriented to fear and fight while the CMs were already on their way to building societies, so the Ns had predominant amygdalas while the CMs had the insulas dominant.  This clearly indicates to me that Liberals descended from Cromagnons while the Conservatives are really modern day versions of Neanderthals.  LOL

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Posted: 21 February 2013 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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dougsmith - 16 February 2013 06:34 AM

Chris Mooney who does Point of Inquiry has written about this extensively in his book Republican Brain.

A Center for Inquiry review of Mooney’s book:

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/a_closer_look_at_the_republican_brain/

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Posted: 01 April 2013 12:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I find it very frustrating that discussions involving evidenced based inquiry, often devolve into political p*ssing matches, where (currently) those left of center somehow
feel not only (currently) smarter than US right of center pundits, but *physiologically* superior as well.

In case there’s any doubt, heres a book that hilights many of the popular scientific foibles associated with those that identify as democrats and liberals:

http://www.scienceleftbehind.com/

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Posted: 01 April 2013 05:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Who cares!  These people can be identified by their stated ideological views.  That’s enough for me.

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Posted: 02 April 2013 05:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Some questions.

If liberal and conservative pesonalities are determined by brain structure:

Do rural and residents of the US south have different brain structures than urban peoples and residents of the North and West Coast?

Peolple tend to become more conservative as they get older; does this indicate changes in their brain structures?

IMO, peoples political stance is far more influenced by their life experience and the social millu they live in than any “brain structure.”

[ Edited: 02 April 2013 06:01 AM by garythehuman ]
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Posted: 02 April 2013 06:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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garythehuman - 02 April 2013 05:58 AM

IMO, peoples political stance is far more influenced by their life experience and the social millu they live in than any “brain structure.”

Both play a role. One is not born a democrat or a republican, but the personality traits which are largely inheritable and therefore innate, will have a significant impact on us leaning either towards liberalism or conservatism. If you score high on openness, you’re likely to become a democrat. Low openness will probably make you a republican.

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Posted: 02 April 2013 07:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Maybe I should add that what I said above is based on studies done predominately on WEIRD people. The reason why blacks and hispanics turn mostly liberal is probably about something else.

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Posted: 02 April 2013 07:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Jonathan Haidt addresses this issue in his book “The Righteous Mind…  By discussing the five moral foundations developed both by nature and nature. His contention is that these tendencies i.e. liberal/conservative, republican/democrat are driven by both and are intuitive.

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Posted: 02 April 2013 08:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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George - 02 April 2013 07:11 AM

Maybe I should add that what I said above is based on studies done predominately on WEIRD people. The reason why blacks and hispanics turn mostly liberal is probably about something else.

Not sure how you can make that observation.
Even in the states, black and hispanic views on ‘liberal’ values like gay marriage is extremely conservative. 
Look at prop 8 in California for example.
Look at non-US populations, in which non-white populations are extremely conservative.

The reason minorities in the states largely vote democrat is purely a function of Democratic platforms that address their specific situation,
beginning with the civil rights movements of the 1960s.

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Posted: 02 April 2013 08:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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rbairos - 02 April 2013 08:36 AM
George - 02 April 2013 07:11 AM

Maybe I should add that what I said above is based on studies done predominately on WEIRD people. The reason why blacks and hispanics turn mostly liberal is probably about something else.

Not sure how you can make that observation.
Even in the states, black and hispanic views on ‘liberal’ values like gay marriage is extremely conservative. 
Look at prop 8 in California for example.
Look at non-US populations, in which non-white populations are extremely conservative.

The reason minorities in the states largely vote democrat is purely a function of Democratic platforms that address their specific situation,
beginning with the civil rights movements of the 1960s.

question

I think you’re agreeing with me here that since blacks and hispanics don’t seem to be too high in openness, the reason why they vote democrats must be due to something else.

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Posted: 02 April 2013 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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George - 02 April 2013 08:43 AM
rbairos - 02 April 2013 08:36 AM
George - 02 April 2013 07:11 AM

Maybe I should add that what I said above is based on studies done predominately on WEIRD people. The reason why blacks and hispanics turn mostly liberal is probably about something else.

Not sure how you can make that observation.
Even in the states, black and hispanic views on ‘liberal’ values like gay marriage is extremely conservative. 
Look at prop 8 in California for example.
Look at non-US populations, in which non-white populations are extremely conservative.

The reason minorities in the states largely vote democrat is purely a function of Democratic platforms that address their specific situation,
beginning with the civil rights movements of the 1960s.

question

I think you’re agreeing with me here that since blacks and hispanics don’t seem to be too high in openness, the reason why they vote democrats must be due to something else.

Yes culture.

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Posted: 02 April 2013 08:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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rbairos - 02 April 2013 08:36 AM

Not sure how you can make that observation.
Even in the states, black and hispanic views on ‘liberal’ values like gay marriage is extremely conservative. 
Look at prop 8 in California for example.

Actually, support for same sex marriage is pretty even among all ethnic groups in the US.  More conservative views (and thus opposition) tend to be more widespread among those with lower education levels. Link  You can also see that religion plays a strong role, with evangelicals being especially anathema to the idea.

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