Politics: 4 January 2010

Conservatives’ Brains

Colin Firth (yes, the actor) was doing a show for BBC-Radio 4 and ended up helping an academic study of the differences in the brains of conservatives and liberals. Firth, a liberal, said, “I just decided to find out what was biologically wrong with people who don’t agree with me, and see what scientists had to say about it and they actually came up with something!”

Conservatives, it seems, have large Amygdalae, which are responsible for processing and remembering emotional reactions. As such, they are what stimulates fear in us. Liberals, on the other hand, have large Anterior Cingulates, which are responsible for assessing the importance of emotion and motivational information. The study (sorry, no link) is small and thus open to question. What’s more, the size of brain parts does not necessarily mean that they are more powerful. For a questionable example: smart people don’t have bigger brains than dumb people (although from species to species there is a very strong correlation).

It should come as no surprise, however, that conservatives are motivated by fear and other lower, just above reptilian brain functions.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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