Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Study: Conservatives Have Over-Developed "Fear Center" in Their "Brains"

There have been a number of studies looking at the differences between how conservatives and other folks process information -- examining our political divide from a cognitive perspective.

But as we all know, the line between nature and nurture is a fuzzy one...
Political opinions are considered choices, and in Western democracies the right to choose one's opinions -- freedom of conscience -- is considered sacrosanct.

But recent studies suggest that our brains and genes may be a major determining factor in the views we hold.

A study at University College London in the UK has found that conservatives' brains have larger amygdalas than the brains of liberals. Amygdalas are responsible for fear and other "primitive" emotions. At the same time, conservatives' brains were also found to have a smaller anterior cingulate -- the part of the brain responsible for courage and optimism.

If the study is confirmed, it could give us the first medical explanation for why conservatives tend to be more receptive to threats of terrorism, for example, than liberals. And it may help to explain why conservatives like to plan based on the worst-case scenario, while liberals tend towards rosier outlooks.

That was written by Daniel Tencer at Raw Story.


Wes said...

There's also an impact from the level of consciousness of the individual. If you look at the work of Don Beck on this issue - which is called Spiral Dynamics - you can clearly see that conservatives and progressives are at different places on the spiral. Conservatives are at the level where authority rules and the circle of care only extends to one's own tribe. Progressives tend to be at a level of inclusion of all, and have a wide circle of care.
The overdeveloped fear center could be a result of authority thinking, because conservatives tend to see conflict and danger everywhere. I'm just thinking out loud on that. Good post.

Joshua Holland said...

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