A study to be published next year at University College London suggests that conservative brains are structured differently than the brains of other people. The investigation, led by Geraint Rees, focused on 92 individuals in the UK--90 students and two members of Parliament.Adds Raw Story: “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.”
Specifically, the research shows that people with conservative tendencies have a larger amygdala and a smaller anterior cingulate than other people. The amygdala--typically thought of as the “primitive brain”--is responsible for reflexive impulses, like fear. The anterior cingulate is thought to be responsible for courage and optimism. This one-two punch could be responsible for many of the anecdotal claims that conservatives “think differently” from others.
Since only adults were included in the investigation, researchers were unable to determine if cerebral physiology drives politics or if political beliefs change the brain.
This heightened fear response might also help to explain right-wingers’ almost knee-jerk resistance to change in whatever form, as well as their habitual self-portrayal as victims. They’re naturally more terrified of, well, everything than the rest of us.
READ MORE: “A Misguided Sense of Victimhood, Cont’d,” by Steve Benen (The Washington Monthly).