Psychological differences between conservatives’ and liberals’ brains

Politically, Americans are more divided than ever.

When it comes to issues of race, immigration, national security, and environmental protection, they disagree about how the government should handle things like never before.”


Some really interesting findings in this Business Insider post below.

A few excerpts:

Decades of research has shown that people get more conservative when they feel threatened and afraid. Brain scans show that people who self-identify as conservative have larger and more active right amygdalas, an area of the brain that’s associated with expressing and processing fear. This aligns with the idea that feeling afraid makes people lean more to the right. ( Groundbreaking research that Yale psychologists published in 2017 revealed that helping people imagine they’re completely safe from harm can make them (temporarily) hold more liberal views.)

 

 – A 2016 study at Northwestern University found that when conservative and liberal college students were given word problems to solve, both groups managed to arrive at some correct answers through gradual, analytical analysis. But when feeling stuck on a problem, liberals were much more likely to draw upon a sudden burst of insight — an ‘aha’ moment, like a lightbulb turning on in the brain. (This didn’t mean that the liberals were any smarter than the conservatives. Rather, it showed that their brains had a tendency to reorganize their thoughts in more flexible ways, while the conservatives tended to take a more step-by-step approach.)

 

– A 2003 review of decades of research on conservative people suggested that their social views can help satisfy “psychological needs” to make sense of the world and manage uncertainty and fear. (“People embrace political conservatism (at least in part) because it serves to reduce fear, anxiety, and uncertainty; to avoid change, disruption, and ambiguity; and to explain, order, and justify inequality among groups and individuals,” the researchers said.)

 

– A 1980 study of high school students found conservative students at that time were more likely to describe themselves as “responsible,” “organized,” “successful,” and “ambitious,” while liberal students might describe themselves as “loving,” “tender,” or “mellow.”- New research shows that conservatives tend to express compassion to smaller social circles than liberals.

 

For example, conservative voters were found to be more likely to agree with statements like: “I often have tender, concerned feelings for my family members who are less fortunate than me.”But their responses suggested such feelings did not extend to people from other countries.
Liberals, on the other hand, were more likely to feel that same level of compassion for people around the world, and even to non-human and imaginary subjects like animals and aliens.

 

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Source: Psychological differences between conservatives’ and liberals’ brains – Business Insider