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Brain May Be ‘Hard-Wired’ Politically

Brain May Be ‘Hard-Wired’ Politically

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Choosing a candidate may depend more on a person’s biological makeup than a careful analysis of issues, U.S. researchers say.

Lead researcher Roger Newman-Norlund of the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health and colleagues had 24 college students reveal their political affiliations. The study subjects were then given questionnaires designed to gauge their attitudes on a range of select political issues.

The study participants were given “resting state” brain scans using magnetic resonance imaging, which made it possible to analyze the strength of connections within the mirror neuron system in both the left and right hemispheres of their brains. The mirror neuron system is a brain network linked to a host of social and emotional abilities, Newman-Norlund said.

The study found more neural activity in areas believed to be linked with broad social connectedness such as friends and the world at-large in Democrats. In Republicans, more activity was found in areas linked with tight social connectedness such as family and country.

In some ways the study confirms a stereotype about members of the two parties: Democrats tend to be more global and Republicans more America-centric, the researchers said.

Bridging partisan divides and acting contrary to ideological preferences might require going against deeply ingrained biological tendencies and while there is evidence that mirror neuron connections could change over time, it’s not something that happens overnight, Newman-Norlund said.

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  • Steve E

    I knew that before there was any study.

  • pi2r2

    Better research will yield more and better information. 24 students; seriously? The commentator who ‘knew that’ must be a Democrat, as they are characteristically self-centric and think they know it all when actually they are quite stupid.

    • http://comcast the fisherman

      Get ready America .Mitt Romney will sell us off to Bain

  • brett

    what about this proves hard wired? definitely a learned response.

  • brett

    defn: liberal- openminded, with a mind and an eye to the future.

    conservative- closed minded with their head so shoved up their past they cannot see
    it much less smell it.

    • alpha-lemming

      Liberal: gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme…

      Conservative: No… you can’t !!!

      • brett

        from a self described lemming happily following the like minded off a cliff!!

  • Steve E

    Another study will show that I you don’t know who your daddy is, you are a Democrat. If you grew up with you daddy, and your daddy knew who his daddy is, then you are a Republican. So the question is…Who’s your daddy?

  • alpha-lemming

    Stated another way…
    Conservatives are “Daddies”……. Be self sufficient, get back on that horse and keep trying, take responsibility for you and your charges etc….

    Progressives are “Mommies”…… Coddle, protect, insulate, nurture, shield from the world etc…..

    • harleydavidson

      nice analogy

    • Nadzieja Batki

      Progressives are “mommies” without the daddies being around to keep a balanced equation.

  • Rachelrao

    I do not buy this argument. I know of many who are globally travelled, lived in other countries, and after immigrating to America changed from Democrats to Republicans. And I have seen Americans born here for generations whose parents were/are Democrats and so they all vote party line whether they agree or not. To me it has been something strange. As one told me, oh we have voted Democrat for generations. When questioned why he would if he did not approve, he responded “family”………

    • Nadzieja Batki

      So it appears that they are more afraid of their “family” than doing what is right.

      • brett

        like it is not the same on the other side of the coin! hypocrites.

  • ChuckS

    Everybody is born a liberal. When we’re born, we just lay down and expect somebody to give us everything we want. We then (hopefully) grow up and learn to take care of ourselves, be responsible, and have respect for other people..

    • ChuckS

      And hopefully don’t get the idea that being responsible or generous means having the government steal money from some people to give to others.

  • Sally

    Our public school system is cranking out liberals. See the dvd, INDOCTRINATION. (available at Amazon)

  • Right Brain Thinker

    Don’t forget, Jesus was (and is) a Liberal. There’s even a website devoted to that. Check it out.

  • Right Brain Thinker

    Surprising that more folks have not commented on this topic.

    A new book by Chris Mooney titled “The Republican Brain” looks at the question of personality and thought process differences between liberals and conservatives. It cites many new studies and goes way beyond the left brain-right brain differences that we have known about for many years—the kind of things referenced in this article.

    I have found it to be one of the most significant books I have read in years and recommend it to anyone of any political persuasion who wants to understand how humans ARE in fact very much hard-wired to think in certain ways—and that those patterns of thinking ARE different between conservatives and liberals. Not necessarily good or bad either way, just different. It’s both a “know thyself” and “know thine enemy” kind of book and goes a long way to explain the psychology behind the typical comments that we see on this website.


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