Brains of liberals, conservatives may work differently, study finds

By Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times

CHICAGO — The differences between liberals and conservatives may run deeper than how they feel about welfare reform or the progress of the Iraq war: Researchers reported Sunday that their brains may actually work differently.

Oh yeah…I think we knew this…

In a study likely to raise the hackles of some conservatives, scientists at New York University and the University of California, Los Angeles, found that a specific region of the brain’s cortex is more sensitive in people who consider themselves liberals than in self-declared conservatives.

The brain region in question helps people shift gears when their usual response would be inappropriate, supporting the notion that liberals are more flexible in their thinking.

“Say you drive home from work the same way every day, but one day there’s a detour and you need to override your autopilot,” said NYU psychologist David Amodio. “Most people function just fine. But there’s a little variability in how sensitive people are to the cue that they need to change their current course.”

The work, to be reported today in the journal Nature Neuroscience, grew out of decades of previous research suggesting that political orientation is linked to certain personality traits or styles of thinking. A review of that research published in 2003 found that conservatives tend to be more rigid and closed-minded, less tolerant of ambiguity and less open to new experiences. Some of the traits associated with conservatives in that review were decidedly unflattering, including fear, aggression and tolerance of inequality. That evoked outrage from conservative pundits.

The latest study showed “there are two cognitive styles — a liberal style and a conservative style,” said UCLA neurologist Dr. Marco Iacoboni, who was not connected with the latest research.

Linda Skitka, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said it’s possible the liberals in the recent study appeared more flexible than the conservatives because the population was skewed.

“We’re more likely to find extreme conservatives in the U.S. than extreme liberals,” she said.

More…

Research thanks to: Van

One Response to “Brains of liberals, conservatives may work differently, study finds”

  1. MD says:

    I wonder why, when these types of studies and performed and analyzed, they disregard 11 percent of the population. Left handed people of course!. I would bet that would change the results. Also, how about male vs. female?