Interesting study on the neurobiology of political affiliation
Posted: 11 September 2007 04:32 PM   [ Ignore ]
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http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070911111852.htm

What are your thoughts?

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Posted: 11 September 2007 05:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It strikes me as kind of speculative work. It’s hard enough to get a good definition of “liberal” and “conservative”.  One plausible one is that liberals are more open to new experiences and opportunities, and conservatives are “more persistent in their judgment and decision making”. If so, then the study results are almost a tautology.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 05:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The affiliation was self-reported. Don’t know if that makes a difference.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 08:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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No anarchists? No libertarians? No socialists? There may be something to the idea of a link between the hard-wiring of the brain and which political philosophy one finds most appealing. But since one’s political philosophy is a result of which philosophy philosophy one prefers, the real test should be which kind of hard-wiring in the brain leads one to be a utilitarian, a deontologist, a virtue ethicist, etc.

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Posted: 11 September 2007 08:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Here’s a good dissection of the whole thing:

The claim: Politically liberal brains are better at handling change

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Posted: 11 September 2007 11:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’ve always figured there were hard-wired differences between people of different politics.  After all, if one believes that a person’s sexuality is not their own choosing (and I don’t believe it is), then why not politics?  People get just as passionate about their politics as about sex - often mixing the two.  Just ask any Senator, if you can pry him away from a page long enough or catch one before he goes into the public restroom!  :grin:

Here is a story about a completely different study (albeit with a tiny sample group) that suggests brain differences between Ds and Rs.  Granted, which came first, the chicken or the egg?  Do Ds and Rs have different brains because they were born that way, or did years of being Ds and Rs cause the brain changes?  Even if the latter, could the Ds and Rs still have legitimate reasons to dislike the other?  Each side may not be able to control who they are politically to some degree. 

Some other studies on the differences between the two major political parties: 

Professor Lee Sigelman of George Washington University examined over 20 years of survey data collected by University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. Overall, he found Democrats less affluent, more distrustful, more sickly and more suicidal.  Sigelman said, “Democrats can be expected to inhabit a Hobbesian state of nature, a world in which life is poor, short, solitary, brutish and nasty.”  What are the odds of this just happening only to Democrats unless their genes or brains were doing something to help cause it? 

“Primetime Live” did a sex survey (being a TV show, I don’t know how accurate the study is), but their findings were Republicans were more likely to be satisfied with their sex lives, more likely to wear something sexy, and more likely to be in a committed relationship than Democrats.  Republicans were also less likely to fake orgasms!  As Larry Elder said commenting on these studies, “No wonder Democrats are unhappy, unhealthy and anti-social.”  :grin:

It may fly in the face of our belief (and desire) to have complete freewill over who we are as humans, but what if a person is “preordained” to incline to lean one way or the other politically?  And if it is the case that people’s genes or brain chemistry (perhaps unalterable) help determine their politics, would people of all political persuasions tend to reject such findings to stick with the comforting illusion that they control their brains and not the other way around?

[ Edited: 11 September 2007 11:42 PM by Rocinante ]
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Posted: 12 September 2007 09:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Wattaquestion gave a link to

The claim: Politically liberal brains are better at handling change

I heard an interview with one of the researchers on PBS today as I was driving home.  He did not state that result.  This seems to be a bit of the strawman gimmick.  He said only that self-identified liberals seemed to react to change of stimulus at a higher rate than self-identified conservatives did.  This avoids the value judgement that the above link inserted.

Interestingly, I was a subject in a similar experiment at UCLA fifty-six years ago.  The subjects were shown drawings of three buckets labeled with their capacities.  The object was to transfer water from buckets A and B to C without spilling any or having any left over in the originating bucket.  This is a variation of the old 3, 4, 5 bucket puzzle.  The first twenty drawings required a certain pattern of fills and transfers.  The next twenty could also be done by the same pattern, but could also be done much more simply.  The subjects had been asked a number of questions to determine their level of religiousity. 

After the work was done and analyzed, the experimenters reported that the least religious 5% recognized and switched to the simple method after two to five of the second set of trials, while most of the most religious 5% never switched from what they had learned from the first twenty trials. 

I asked what they deduced from this, and my opinion of psychologists was strengthened when they said, “We can’t deduce anything other than that there is a correlation between level of religiousness and the speed with which one switches methods on this task.”

Hmmm, just like today’s researcher. LOL


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