Conveniently timed for last week’s premiere of Jonathan Haidt’s TEDTalk, “The Real Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives,” this report in Science suggests that libs and cons may sport a physiological difference, in their bodies’ reponses to unexpected stimuli. From the abstract:
… In a group of 46 adult participants with strong political beliefs, individuals with measurably lower physical sensitivities to sudden noises and threatening visual images were more likely to support foreign aid, liberal immigration policies, pacifism, and gun control, whereas individuals displaying measurably higher physiological reactions to those same stimuli were more likely to favor defense spending, capital punishment, patriotism, and the Iraq War …
Study author Douglas Oxley told the Washington Independent that the study does not imply there’s an inborn or genetic difference between people on the left and right, only that there is some correllation between physiological response and ideology, in a small test group of volunteers, in Nebraska. And yet, the WI writer makes the excellent point that:
it’s still a small step toward a greater understanding of our ideological divide, even if the answer doesn’t lie in our genes.
Watch Jonathan Haidt’s TEDTalk for more insight: