Quantcast
Connect with us

Study: Conservatives have larger ‘fear center’ in brain

Published

on

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

“It is very significant because it does suggest there is something about political attitudes that are either encoded in our brain structure through our experience or that our brain structure in some way determines or results in our political attitudes,” Geraint Rees, the neurologist who carried out the study, told the media.

Rees, who heads up UCL’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, was originally asked half-jokingly to study the differences between liberal and conservative brains for an episode of BBC 4’s Today show that was hosted by actor Colin Firth. But, after studying 90 UCL students and two British parliamentarians, the neurologist was shocked to discover a clear correlation between the size of certain brain parts and political views.

He cautions that, because the study was carried out only on adults, there is no way to tell what came first — the brain differences or the political opinions.

But evidence is beginning to accumulate that figuring out a person’s political proclivities may soon be as simple as a brain scan — or a DNA test.

ADVERTISEMENT

In a study published in October, researchers at Harvard and UC-San Diego found that a variant of the DRD4 gene predisposes people to being liberal, but only if they had active social lives as adolescents. The “liberal gene” has also been linked to a desire to try new things, and other “personality traits related to political liberalism.”

For his part, actor Colin Firth, who hosted the BBC show that revealed the results of the brain scans, has said he wants to see brain scans on politicians to find out if they are telling the truth about what they believe.

Questioning the “liberal” credentials of the head of Britain’s Liberal Democratic party, Nick Clegg, Firth said: “I think we should have him scanned.”

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Woman allegedly involved in Central Park scandal placed on leave from job: ‘We do not condone racism’

Published

on

Video circulated on social media on Memorial Day of a woman in Central Park claiming she was calling 911 to falsely claim an "African-American man" was threatening her life.

It reportedly started after he filmed her walking her dog without a leash.

https://twitter.com/melodyMcooper/status/1264965252866641920

Internet sleuths worked to identify the woman. During the day on Monday, rumors of her identity spread online.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Scientists fight online coronavirus misinformation war

Published

on

With cat photos and sometimes scathing irony, Mathieu Rebeaud, a Swiss-based researcher in biochemistry, has nearly tripled his Twitter following since the coronavirus pandemic began.

With 14,000 followers, he posts almost daily, giving explanations on the latest scientific research and, in particular, aims to fight misinformation that spreads as fast as the virus itself.

He is among a growing number of doctors, academics and institutions who in recent weeks have adapted and amplified their scientific messaging in hopes of countering what has been termed an infodemic -- a deluge of information, including widespread false claims, which experts say can pose a serious threat to public health.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Ted Cruz doesn’t want people shamed with body bags for going to beach: ‘Please stop the hate’

Published

on

In early May, Florida attorney Daniel Uhlfelder made news by dressing up as the Grim Reaper in an attempt to scare people from crowding beaches during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Days later, he escalated by laying out body bags on the steps of the Florida capitol building in Tallahassee.

He escalated further on Saturday by announcing he would be handing out body bags to Florida beachgoers and started a fundraiser with the funds going to two progressive Political Action Committees.

https://twitter.com/DWUhlfelderLaw/status/1264412394794647552

The effort caught the eye of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image