Brain Scans Show Conservatives and Liberals View The World Differently: Here’s How

Posted by on December 16, 2015 in Sci-Tech, Science with 12 Comments

mri-brain-scan-compressed

By Robert Torres | Truth Theory

Is there something politicians know that the vast majority of the US voters don’t? Some of them are proof that all they need to know is how their voters think. You don’t really believe some of them talk the way they do because they’re stupid do you? It may at times appear that way, but they are speaking to voter profiles.

Related Article:  How Your Thoughts Can Change the Structure And Function Of Your Brain


First they outline their demographic and then angle the pitch. There is plenty of published research on why and how certain types vote. And really it’s a predictable statistical function of the voter’s brain. But even given the current political atmosphere I couldn’t believe the venom certain candidates were spewing. With so much negativity – about “EVERYTHING”, I began to wonder if they might be fanning the flames of a growing national hate movement.

Then I read an article, “Red Brain, Blue Brain” about a joint study done by Dr. Darren Schreiber from the University of Exeter and neuroscientists at the University of California, San Diego. Using fMRIbrain scans of 82 participants, they actually found differences in the way conservative and liberal brains function. Conservatives are reactionary, using an area of the brain (amygdala) related to fear. Liberal brain activity involves internalization – self-awareness, competence (left posterior insula).

With data in hand Dr. Schreiber and his team looked up participants’ political party registrations. Based on neural response they found they could predict with an 82.9% accuracy how a person will vote. This has become the most accurate predictor known. Could it really be that simple? Well although intriguing, I needed more.

According to psychologist Mike Dodd, University of Nebraska, Lincoln – “The two parties simply see the world differently.” Using electrodes to monitor skin conductance of 48 people and eye tracking devices involving 76 students, this was his study’s conclusion. Conservatives just walk into a room and focus on negativity. “They’re essentially monitoring things that make them feel uncomfortable, which does feel fairly consistent with conservative policies. It doesn’t make them better or worse people but there might be a biological basis for their views” Mike said (Live Science).

Related Article: Brain Imaging Tech Opens Up New Door to Predicting Behavior


Then there’s the Yale Law School study in Social Neurosciencejournal, which also used fMRI to take images in real time. FMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) works by tracking oxygen in the blood to image neural activity. Increased activity requires increased oxygen rich blood. For instance, the brain’s “reward center” becomes active when listening to music.

The Yale study however focused on racial bias in jury awards for discrimination cases. This was also a small study with 19 non-Hispanic white participants which included an IAT (Implicit Association Test). The IAT tests the strength of a person’s automatic subconscious responses. This measures precise reaction times to associations with positive or negative words to images of blacks and whites. Subconsciously favoring one race over another is not racism because it’s not explicit. Again bias was detected.

In Palm Springs, CA at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference they showcased several more studies about the nature of political beliefs – yielding many provocative results. The interests centered around, why there are such sharp divides between the parties on issues like war, same-sex marriage, abortion and immigration.

Emory University psychologist Drew Westen’s study strongly suggests that emotions and implicit bias influence how people view candidates. It causes them to spot faults in opposing candidates while rejecting negative information about candidates they favor.

Psychologist Brian Nosek, University of Virginia found that those with implicit and admitted racial bias tended to vote Republican. “What automatic biases reveal is that while we have the feeling we are living up to our values, that feeling may not be right. We are not aware of everything that causes our behavior.” Nosek along with Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji conducted their study online involving 130,000 whites and their views on blacks using the IAT method.

Among whites 75% showed implicit bias but Republicans harbor more anti-black prejudice. Theoretically all people have the ability to control explicit bias but I strongly believe some are hardwired.

At New York University, Neuroscientist David Amodio and his colleague Patricia Devine tested 150 white college students and once again, implicit biases shone through. But why do these split-second negative responses exist? The amygdala operates extremely rapidly, long before our conscious thoughts have time to react. Our brains have evolved to categorize and simplify patterns that are complex. Thus, “if left unchecked, they might lead to the expression of some bias in a way that you don’t intend,” says Amodio.

Related Article: Brain Area Found That May Make Humans Unique

Fortunately, the amygdala alone doesn’t control our behavior. We have a large highly-complex frontal cortex, helping to inhibit impulses, make complicated decisions and behave in socially appropriate ways.

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12 Reader Comments

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  1. 1011482828910772@facebook.com' Jennifer Wagoner says:

    Dallas Scott

  2. 1172595356088704@facebook.com' Starr Guiness says:

    Yes, of course, let’s find another way to separate people and then back it by science!!!!! What a novel idea!!! Yea, Fb really needs a sarcasm font….

  3. 10203805613899971@facebook.com' John S Blazek says:

    Liberalism and conservativism are both extremes. Any extreme is bad. Read any book by Ken Wilber about that subject. When we define ourselves by a label we limit ourselves.

  4. 10153882819957340@facebook.com' Dallas Scott says:

    Jennifer Wagoner

    “The current research suggests not only that having a particular brain influences your political views, but also that having a particular political view influences your brain.”

    http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2013/02/brain-difference-democrats-republicans

    I believe our political views change our brains.

  5. 1051353488220420@facebook.com' Cheryl Probert says:

    Seeking for Truth in the WORD through the Set apart Spirit Yahuah and the WORD of all Creation; Yahusha.
    Through Instruction, Testing, Listening, Seeking, Pondering, Walking TheWay of Righteousness= Observing the Sabbath appointments between the almighty Abba Yahuah and his Loyal Chosen Few professed in Leviticus 23, 24, and 25. Repenting, and asking for forgiveness for faltering daily in the s(k)in; admitting that we have faltered.
    Poured upon by the set apart spirit Yahuah, when we walk the path of righteousness, we then wear the blue/violet braided crown upon our temple hem, in remembrance of the Moral Commandments of the Kingdom’ Law. Yahuah birthed the WORD= Light= All things were created through the WORD; Yahusha, YahuSha= Yahuah is Salvation; Love, Life, and balance in the Law.
    And when we DO all these things without backsliding, our hearts are opened, and we are given gifts of Truth in the WORD of the Verses of the almighty Yahuah’s Script= clues, mysteries, and revelations of the end time scenarios that are upon ManKind, and the planet Earth. HalleluYAH!!!

  6. 10153632157517033@facebook.com' Stacy Pereira says:

    I wonder if they even found a brain during the scans of racist people.

  7. 1536016523362719@facebook.com' Holly Frost says:

    How do you explain people who shift from one adamant viewpoint to a very different perspective during their lifetime? Brain damage?

    • tmagnit@aol.com' Terrie says:

      This has happened to me. I was a San Francisco, dyed in the wool liberal in my early life…and after moving to SoCal, getting married, having a baby and buying a house…I turned into a center-right type. [over a 25 yr. period] And now, I balk at the ultra left wing of NorCal. It drives me nuts! I’m in my fifties now. I think these beliefs have more to do with life experience and understanding how the system works rather than some brain abnormality. Although, I do agree there is some genetic basis for the way people think. 🙂

  8. 953930951327128@facebook.com' Mikky TK says:

    Democrats are smarter!

  9. zigzzagz@hotmail.com' zigz zagz says:

    Yup. Talk about angling your pitch according your audience, just look at this article. Conservatives are “fearful and reactionary” and liberals are “self aware and confident. Then it goes on a bit about racism and white people. All that is needed is a bit about feminism and the patriarchy and you have a liberal trifecta. Lol

    • tmagnit@aol.com' Terrie says:

      I was thinking the same thing. I was going to say that implicit bias is in the researchers themselves and they seem to get the result they expect! Especially those Harvard elites!! Making themselves out to be, oh so superior. Talk about an having an agenda.

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