Monday, September 10, 2007

Liberal vs Conservative Brain Activity

According to a research paper just released by a joint team of researchers at the university of New York and the UCLA, which was reported here and here, it seems that the idealogical differences between liberal and conservative leaning people is a result of differences in the way their brains process information .Of course only subscribers to the Nature Neuroscience journal have access to the original paper, so my opinion is based on the two articles I've linked to above.

To sum it up it seems that liberal minded people act less habitually, are more accepting of new ideas and are more tolerant of ambiguity, which was induced from the increased brain activity ( compared to that of their conservative counterparts ) they exhibited before making any decision in the experiment they were put through; when faced with a conflicting situation . If you want in on the details of the experiment you should read either one of the above articles, here are some excerpts from the LA Times article I liked the most :

"The results show "there are two cognitive styles -- a liberal style and a conservative style," said UCLA neurologist Dr. Marco Iacoboni, who was not connected to the latest research."

"Liberals had more brain activity and made fewer mistakes than conservatives when............"

"Frank J. Sulloway, a researcher at UC Berkeley's Institute of Personality and Social Research who was not connected to the study, said the results "provided an elegant demonstration that individual differences on a conservative-liberal dimension are strongly related to brain activity.""

""There is ample data from the history of science showing that social and political liberals indeed do tend to support major revolutions in science," said Sulloway, who has written about the history of science and has studied behavioral differences between conservatives and liberals."

" would be a mistake to conclude that one political orientation was better. The tendency of conservatives to block distracting information could be a good thing depending on the situation......."