Political Views Are Reflected in Brain Structure

NIA human brain drawingThink your political views are based on reason and/or morality?  ScienceDaily reports:

We all know that people at opposite ends of the political spectrum often really can’t see eye to eye. Now, a new report published online on April 7th in Current Biology, reveals that those differences in political orientation are tied to differences in the very structures of our brains.Individuals who call themselves liberal tend to have larger anterior cingulate cortexes, while those who call themselves conservative have larger amygdalas. Based on what is known about the functions of those two brain regions, the structural differences are consistent with reports showing a greater ability of liberals to cope with conflicting information and a greater ability of conservatives to recognize a threat, the researchers say.

“Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual’s political orientation,” said Ryota Kanai of the University College London. “Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure.”

Kanai said his study was prompted by reports from others showing greater anterior cingulate cortex response to conflicting information among liberals. “That was the first neuroscientific evidence for biological differences between liberals and conservatives,” he explained.

Someone needs to take this report to the budget negotiations and show it to Boehner, Obama, and Reid.  Read more here.

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  • Mamagriff50

    If thats the case shouldn’t republicans have little tiny heads, with very little structure?………..

  • Mamagriff50

    If thats the case shouldn’t republicans have little tiny heads, with very little structure?………..

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stefan-Griffith/100000603602275 Stefan Griffith

      and liberals should have giant fat useless heads, filled with hope and hot air

      • bilbo baggins

        and if the two mated they would have the perfect offspring, right? No, They’d be just as stupid as everybody else.

      • Bobbiethejean

        A Pew poll revealed that 55% of scientists identify as Democrats and 52% call themselves liberal.

        Only 9% of the scientists consider themselves conservative while 6% identified as Republicans.

        Chew on that, bonehead.

        • Malkiyahu

          Where is the study showing that scientists are more intelligent than people in other careers? Or is that an ignorant assumption?

          Personally, I think scientists are generally less intelligent (though more knowledgeable) than the rest of the population.

          • quartz99

            I’m gonna guess you don’t actually _know_ any scientists. I do. My husband is one. There are, in fact, a whole lot of very highly intelligent people in the sciences. In spite of the stupid stereotype about how smart people “lack common sense”, to be a good scientist, you must actually possess high intelligence, high common sense, very pronounced reasoning and logic abilities, and a good grasp on social politics (to navigate the murky world of peer review). Give me a world of scientists any day.

      • Andrew

        Your oversized amygdala is showing.

    • Andrew

      Your oversized anterior cingulate cortex is showing.

  • Rex Vestri

    So *that’s* why republicans are such pricks!

    I guess they can now use the excuse “It’s just the way they’re made”

  • Rex Vestri

    So *that’s* why republicans are such pricks!

    I guess they can now use the excuse “It’s just the way they’re made”

    • ollollo

      I always thought liberalism was akin to “openmindedness” however reading these politically biased comments I realize the liberals are as closeminded as their conservative counter parts. Why are people so divided by ideology anyways? Don’t people realize (especially liberals) that there are multiple ways of solving the same problem.

      Just dismissing someone as a ‘prick’ based on their party affiliation or ideology makes just as closed minded as the people you critcize.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Dayhoff/807089011 Brian Dayhoff

        Having a political slant is an indication of bias. An unbiased person would weigh each issue based exclusively on known factors and devise a strategy that suits each situation without causing more damage in related situations than the solution solves. In practice it is impossible to weigh each individual issue for every person affected because people just don’t have enough time to do that, which is why we elect officials. In theory they should be doing this for us but in practice they are prone to the same slants and often have an unrelated agenda that causes them to represent our interests poorly.

        I wouldn’t say that having a political slant necessarily makes someone unreasonable or incapable of compromise, it simply means you can expect that they will favor a certain method of solution over another. The more intense the slant is however, the less likely they are to consider notions conflicting with their own ideology. It should also be noted that no problem in the history of man has been solved exclusively by an ideology without a practical application of real world facts to draw from.

        • bilbo baggins

          we are not robots. nobody can be completely unbiased. actually, even robots have biases passed down from their creators. Wait, so we elect officials because we don’t have time? How are these “officials” more qualified than un-officials?

          And by devising a strategy to suit each situation without causing more damage in itself is a bias that leans towards not causing harm. Sometimes solutions require causing harm. If your goal is the “greater good” then that is your bias.

      • Bobbiethejean

        “however reading these politically biased comments I realize the liberals are as closeminded as their conservative counter parts.”

        Generalizing about a whole group of people based on less than a handful of comments on a website like Disinfo? Brilliant.

  • Anonymous

    Conservatives are also prone to perseveration and typically have a left-hemisphere bias

  • JoiquimCouteau

    Conservatives are also prone to perseveration and typically have a left-hemisphere bias

  • ollollo

    I always thought liberalism was akin to “openmindedness” however reading these politically biased comments I realize the liberals are as closeminded as their conservative counter parts. Why are people so divided by ideology anyways? Don’t people realize (especially liberals) that there are multiple ways of solving the same problem.

    Just dismissing someone as a ‘prick’ based on their party affiliation or ideology makes just as closed minded as the people you critcize.

  • Anonymous

    Quick note from my days as a student of psychology;

    The amygdala, or the part of the brain singled out by this article as being more prominent in conservatives, is closely related to FEAR

  • MoralDrift

    Quick note from my days as a student of psychology;

    The amygdala, or the part of the brain singled out by this article as being more prominent in conservatives, is closely related to FEAR

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stefan-Griffith/100000603602275 Stefan Griffith

    and liberals should have giant fat useless heads, filled with hope and hot air

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    It does explain handily why the entire GOP talks a good game and then craps their collective depends with fear when presented with even the faintest shred of real personal danger.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    It does explain handily why the entire GOP talks a good game and then craps their collective depends with fear when presented with even the faintest shred of real personal danger.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Dayhoff/807089011 Brian Dayhoff

    Having a political slant is an indication of bias. An unbiased person would weigh each issue based exclusively on known factors and devise a strategy that suits each situation without causing more damage in related situations than the solution solves. In practice it is impossible to weigh each individual issue for every person affected because people just don’t have enough time to do that, which is why we elect officials. In theory they should be doing this for us but in practice they are prone to the same slants and often have an unrelated agenda that causes them to represent our interests poorly.

    I wouldn’t say that having a political slant necessarily makes someone unreasonable or incapable of compromise, it simply means you can expect that they will favor a certain method of solution over another. The more intense the slant is however, the less likely they are to consider notions conflicting with their own ideology. It should also be noted that no problem in the history of man has been solved exclusively by an ideology without a practical application of real world facts to draw from.

  • bilbo baggins

    we are not robots. nobody can be completely unbiased. actually, even robots have biases passed down from their creators. Wait, so we elect officials because we don’t have time? How are these “officials” more qualified than un-officials?

    And by devising a strategy to suit each situation without causing more damage in itself is a bias that leans towards not causing harm. Sometimes solutions require causing harm. If your goal is the “greater good” then that is your bias.

  • bilbo baggins

    and if the two mated they would have the perfect offspring, right? No, They’d be just as stupid as everybody else.

  • Bobbiethejean

    “however reading these politically biased comments I realize the liberals are as closeminded as their conservative counter parts.”

    Generalizing about a whole group of people based on less than a handful of comments on a website like Disinfo? Brilliant.

  • Bobbiethejean

    A Pew poll revealed that 55% of scientists identify as Democrats and 52% call themselves liberal.

    Only 9% of the scientists consider themselves conservative while 6% identified as Republicans.

    Chew on that, bonehead.

  • Malkiyahu

    Where is the study showing that scientists are more intelligent than people in other careers? Or is that an ignorant assumption?

    Personally, I think scientists are generally less intelligent (though more knowledgeable) than the rest of the population.

  • Andrew

    Your oversized amygdala is showing.

  • Andrew

    Your oversized anterior cingulate cortex is showing.

  • Kali23Yuga

    Political views =/= intelligence
    But I’ll leave you adults to enjoy your “you have a pea brain”-discussion.

  • Kali23Yuga

    Political views =/= intelligence
    But I’ll leave you adults to enjoy your “you have a pea brain”-discussion.

  • Anonymous

    I’m gonna guess you don’t actually _know_ any scientists. I do. My husband is one. There are, in fact, a whole lot of very highly intelligent people in the sciences. In spite of the stupid stereotype about how smart people “lack common sense”, to be a good scientist, you must actually possess high intelligence, high common sense, very pronounced reasoning and logic abilities, and a good grasp on social politics (to navigate the murky world of peer review). Give me a world of scientists any day.

  • lifemare

    What the hell? This is a complete nonsense!
    Our brains have plastical properties, they develop differently throughout our lifes, according to our individual experiences.
    The brains of blind people tend to have abnormally over-developed areas for processing auditory, olfatory and tactile stimuli.
    All this study proves is that people with different political views have developed their brain differently, because different political views usually reflect or result in ways of life wich can also be dramatically different.

    What you’re trying to suggest is that our brains are inately programming us, and it’s precisely the opposite!

  • lifemare

    What the hell? This is a complete nonsense!
    Our brains have plastical properties, they develop differently throughout our lifes, according to our individual experiences.
    The brains of blind people tend to have abnormally over-developed areas for processing auditory, olfatory and tactile stimuli.
    All this study proves is that people with different political views have developed their brain differently, because different political views usually reflect or result in ways of life wich can also be dramatically different.

    What you’re trying to suggest is that our brains are inately programming us, and it’s precisely the opposite!

    • girlanachronism

      No one is saying that, you’re the one who has it backwards. The point is that we can observe differences between these groups, and these differences are the results of BOTH genetic and environmental influences. The individual differences in both personality and brain structures are THE FOCUS OF THE STUDY. I suggest you read the study before you make your assumptions next time.

  • Fuunguus

    Amygdalas is the brain center that learns what to fear, it also triggers fear when it recognizes the learned danger. It’s one of the most primitive parts of our brains, most creatures in the kingdom of animalia have this little brain center. Whenever you sense something that triggers fear in you, it’s the Amygdalas at work. The Amygdalas is very important for basic survival, but only that. Often will the Amygdalas learn something wrong, learn to fear something that isn’t dangerous. We see this everyday in all the people with various phobias. That is why you should not laugh at the girl with pickles phobia, she can’t help being scared. For some the fear might take over their lives completely. Just saying, a large amygdalas isn’t very positive.

  • Anonymous

    Amygdalas is the brain center that learns what to fear, it also triggers fear when it recognizes the learned danger. It’s one of the most primitive parts of our brains, most creatures in the kingdom of animalia have this little brain center. Whenever you sense something that triggers fear in you, it’s the Amygdalas at work. The Amygdalas is very important for basic survival, but only that. Often will the Amygdalas learn something wrong, learn to fear something that isn’t dangerous. We see this everyday in all the people with various phobias. That is why you should not laugh at the girl with pickles phobia, she can’t help being scared. For some the fear might take over their lives completely. Just saying, a large amygdalas isn’t very positive.

  • girlanachronism

    No one is saying that, you’re the one who has it backwards. The point is that we can observe differences between these groups, and these differences are the results of BOTH genetic and environmental influences. The individual differences in both personality and brain structures are THE FOCUS OF THE STUDY. I suggest you read the study before you make your assumptions next time.

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