Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Liberal Mind and Brain vs The Conservative Mind and Brain

Differences in Conservative and Liberal Brains
16 peer-reviewed studies show liberals and conservatives physiologically different
In the 16 peer-reviewed scientific studies summarized below, researchers found that liberals and conservatives have different brain structures, different physiological responses to stimuli, and activate different neural mechanisms when confronted with similar situations. Each entry below cites the source document, and a PDF of each study has been included. The studies are arranged from most recent to oldest. We included all the peer-reviewed studies on this subject that we could find. If you know about others, please contact us with details.

1. Conservatives spend more time looking at unpleasant images, and liberals spend more time looking at pleasant images.
unpleasant and pleasant"We report evidence that individual-level variation in people's physiological and attentional responses to aversive and appetitive stimuli are correlated with broad political orientations. Specifically, we find that greater orientation to aversive stimuli tends to be associated with right-of-centre and greater orientation to appetitive (pleasing) stimuli with left-of-centre political inclinations."
Michael D. Dodd, PhD, Amanda Balzer, PhD, Carly Jacobs, MA, Michael Gruszczynski, MA, Kevin B. Smith, PhD, and John R. Hibbing, PhD, "The Left Rolls with the Good; The Right Confronts the Bad. Physiology and Cognition in Politics,"  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Mar. 5, 2012
Fat Bastardo responds: This maybe why Republicans are the party of no and they like seeing unpleasant things like people suffering and living in poverty.
2. Reliance on quick, efficient, and "low effort" thought processes yields conservative ideologies, while effortful and deliberate reasoning yields liberal ideologies.
thought process"...[P]olitical conservatism is promoted when people rely on low-effort thinking. When effortful, deliberate responding is disrupted or disengaged, thought processes become quick and efficient; these conditions promote conservative ideology… low-effort thought might promote political conservatism because its concepts are easier to process, and processing fluency increases attitude endorsement.

Four studies support our assertion that low-effort thinking promotes political conservatism... Our findings suggest that conservative ways of thinking are basic, normal, and perhaps natural."
Scott Eidelman, PhD, Christian S. Crandall, PhD, Jeffrey A. Goodman, PhD, and John C. Blanchar, "Low-Effort Thought Promotes Political Conservatism,"  Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 2012

Fat Bastardo responds: Everyone knows simply by reading conservative arguments that conservatives are intellectually lazy and dishonest.
3. Conservatives react more strongly than liberals to disgusting images, such as a picture of someone eating worms.
This image of a man eating worms is similar to one that was shown to subjects in the study. Source: Kevin B. Smith, et al., 'Disgust Sensitivity and the Neurophysiology of Left-Right Political Orientations,', Oct. 19, 2011"People who believe they would be bothered by a range of hypothetical disgusting situations display an increased likelihood of displaying right-of-center rather than left-of-center political orientations… In this article, we demonstrate that individuals with marked involuntary physiological responses to disgusting images [measured by change in mean skin conductance], such as of a man eating a large mouthful of writhing worms, are more likely to self-identify as conservative and, especially, to oppose gay marriage than are individuals with more muted physiological responses to the same images."
Kevin B. Smith, PhD, Douglas Oxley, PhD, Matthew V. Hibbing, PhD, John R. Alford, PhD, and John R. Hibbing, PhD, "Disgust Sensitivity and the Neurophysiology of Left-Right Political Orientations,"  PLOS ONE, Oct. 19, 2011
Fat Bastardo responds:  We know that when it comes to doing unpleasant things like fighting a war, conservatives are chicken hawk and girly men.
4. Liberals have more tolerance to uncertainty (bigger anterior cingulate cortex), and conservatives have more sensitivity to fear (bigger right amygdala).
Source: Gary Leisman, et al., 'Intentionality and 'Free-Will' from a Neurodevelopmental Perspective,', June 27, 2012"In a large sample of young adults, we related self-reported political attitudes to gray matter volume using structural MRI [magnetic resonance imaging]. We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala...               
...[O]ur findings are consistent with the proposal that political orientation is associated with psychological processes for managing fear and uncertainty. The amygdala has many functions, including fear processing. Individuals with a larger amygdala are more sensitive to fear, which, taken together with our findings, might suggest the testable hypothesis that individuals with larger amagdala are more inclined to integrate conservative views into their belief systems... our finding of an association between anterior cingulate cortex [ACC] may be linked with tolerance to uncertainty. One of the functions of the anterior cingulate cortex is to monitor uncertainty and conflicts. Thus it is conceivable that individuals with a larger ACC have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts, allowing them to accept more liberal views."
Ryota Kanai, PhD, Tom Feilden, Colin Firth, and Geraint Rees, PhD, "Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults,"  Current Biology, Apr. 7, 2011
Fat Bastardo responds: Again this goes to the fact that conservatives are chicken shit.

5. Conservatives have stronger motivations than liberals to preserve purity and cleanliness.
clean and pure"...[R]eminders of physical purity influence specific moral judgments regarding behaviors in the sexual domain as well as broad political attitudes...

...[E]nvironmental reminders of physical cleanliness shifted participants’ attitudes toward the conservative end of the political spectrum and altered their specific attitudes toward various moral acts... When taken together, these two sets of results point to the possibility that political orientation may be, in some measure, shaped by the strength of an individual’s motivation to avoid physical contamination and that resulting vigilance for threats to purity may serve to reinforce a politically conservative stance toward the world."
Erik G. Helzer and David A. Pizarro, PhD, "Dirty Liberals! Reminders of Physical Cleanliness Influence Moral and Political Attitudes,"  Psychological Science, Mar. 18, 2011
Fat Bastardo responds: Psychologists call this anal retentive. When it comes to trashing the environment they have no problem littering and polluting.

6. Liberals follow the direction of eye movements better than conservatives.
Source: (accessed July 13, 2012)"In the present study, we examine whether gaze cue effects [the ability to follow the direction of another individual’s eye movements or gaze] are moderated by political temperament, given that those on the political right tend to be more supportive of individualism—and less likely to be influenced by others—than those on the left. We find standard gaze cuing effects across all subjects, but systematic differences in these effects by political temperament. Liberals exhibit a very large gaze cuing effect while conservatives show no such effect at various SOAs [stimulus onset asynchrony]...
Perhaps conservatives are less likely to trust others meaning that they are also less likely to trust a gaze cue..."
Michael D. Dodd, PhD, John R. Hibbing, PhD, and Kevin B. Smith, PhD, "The Politics of Attention: Gaze Cuing Effects Are Moderated by Political Temperament,"  Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, Jan. 2011
Fat Bastardo responds: Because conservatives a liar, pedophiles and less trust worthy they think that everyone else is like them.

7. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to interpret faces as threatening and expressing dominant emotions, while Democrats show greater emotional distress and lower life satisfaction.
threatening faces"Independent sample t-tests revealed group differences in the averaged threat interpretation scores of the 10 facial stimuli. Republican sympathizers were more likely to interpret the faces as signaling a threatening expression as compared to Democrat sympathizers. Group differences were also found for dominance perceptions, whereby Republican sympathizers were more likely to perceive the faces as expressing dominant emotions than were Democrat sympathizers...

Collectively, when compared to Republican sympathizers, Democrat sympathizers showed greater psychological distress, more frequent histories of adverse life events such as interpersonal victimization experiences, fewer and less satisfying relationships, and lower perceptions of the trustworthiness of peers and intimate affiliates."
Jacob M. Vigil, PhD, "Political Leanings Vary with Facial Expression Processing and Psychosocial Functioning,"  Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 2010
Fat Bastardo responds: Again, they are a bunch of chicken shits.

8. Conservatives and liberals react similarly to positive incentives, but conservatives have greater sensitivity to negative stimuli.
"Our findings suggest that conservatives are sensitive to avoidance motivation [motivation through negative stimuli], which produces 'inhibition' responses manifested in greater rigidity... Based on the studies' findings, we would not expect differences between liberals and conservatives in responding to positive stimuli or incentives (i.e., approach cues), but we would expect greater inhibitory reactions by conservatives in response to negative, avoidant cues. Self-regulation appears to provide a useful perspective for understanding how one's political views may affect categorization processes and, more broadly, the association between political conservatism and rigidity."
Mindi S. Rock, PhD, and Ronnie Janoff-Bulman, PhD, "Where Do We Draw Our Lines? Politics, Rigidity, and the Role of Self-Regulation,"  Social Psychological and Personality Science, Jan. 2010
Fat Bastardo responds: All Conservative understand is fear and fear of losing some money.

9. Conservatives have more activity in their dorsolateral prefrontal cortices, the part of the brain that activates for complex social evaluations.
"The conservatism dimension, which corresponds to the liberal-to-conservative criterion, was associated with activity in the right DLPFC [dorsolateral prefrontal cortex]...
In this study, we speculate that activity in the DLPFC may reflect a role of this region in deliberative decision-making in complex social evaluations... The observation that this region was increasingly activated by conservative beliefs could be explained by claiming that conservative statements require more complex social judgments marked by greater cognitive dissonance between self-interest and sense of fairness...
[W]e showed that the representation of complex political beliefs relies on three fundamental dimensions, each reflected in distinctive patterns of neural activation: The degree of individualism of political beliefs was linearly associated with activation in the medial PFC [prefrontal cortex] and TPJ [temporoparietal junction], the degree of conservatism with activation in the DLPFC, and the degree of radicalism with activation in the ventral striatum and PC/P [posterior cingulate/precuneus]. Our findings support the interpretation that the political belief system depends on a set of social cognitive processes including those that enable a person to judge themselves and other people, make decisions in ambivalent social situations, and comprehend motivational and emotional states."
Giovanna Zamboni, MD, Marta Gozzi, PhD, Frank Krueger, PhD, Jean-RenĂ© Duhamel, PhD, Angela Sirigu, PhD, and Jordan Grafman, PhD, "Individualism, Conservatism, and Radicalism As Criteria for Processing Political Beliefs: A Parametric fMRI Study,"  Social Neuroscience, Sep. 2009
Fat Bastardo responds: This doesn't mean that they can make these evaluations. All it means is that they try.

10. Conservatism is focused on preventing negative outcomes, while liberalism is focused on advancing positive outcomes.
"Political liberalism and conservatism differ in provide versus protect orientations, specifically providing for group members' welfare (political Left) and protecting the group from harm (political Right). These reflect the fundamental psychological distinction between approach and avoidance motivation. Conservatism is avoidance based; it is focused on preventing negative outcomes (e.g., societal losses) and seeks to regulate society via inhibition (restraints) in the interests of social order. Liberalism is approach based; it is focused on advancing positive outcomes (e.g., societal gains) and seeks to regulate society via activation (interventions) in the interests of social justice."
Ronnie Janoff-Bulman, PhD, "To Provide or Protect: Motivational Bases of Political Liberalism and Conservatism,"  Psychological Inquiry: An International Journal for the Advancement of Psychological Theory, Aug. 2009
Fat Bastardo responds: This shows that Conservative prefer to maintain the status quo.

11. Genetics influence political attitudes during early adulthood and beyond.
genetic influence"The present research attempts to characterize how the transmission of political orientations develops over the life course... [G]enetic influences on political attitudes are absent prior to young adulthood. During childhood and adolescence, individual differences in political attitudes are accounted for by a variety of environmental influences... However, at the point of early adulthood (in the early 20s), for those who left their parental home, there is evidence of a sizeable genetic influence on political attitudes which remains stable throughout adult life."
Peter K. Hatemi, PhD, Carolyn L. Funk, PhD, Sarah E. Medland, PhD, Hermine M. Maes, PhD, Judy L. Silberg, PhD, Nicholas G. Martin, PhD, and Lindon J. Eaves, PhD, DSc, "Genetic and Environmental Transmission of Political Attitudes Over a Life Time,"  The Journal of Politics, July 21, 2009

12. Compared to liberals, conservatives are less open to new experiences and learn better from negative stimuli than positive stimuli.
reward and punishment"In this study, the relations among political ideology, exploratory behavior, and the formation of attitudes toward novel stimuli were explored. Participants played a computer game that required learning whether these stimuli produced positive or negative outcomes. Learning was dependent on participants’ decisions to sample novel stimuli... Political ideology correlated with exploration during the game, with conservatives sampling fewer targets than liberals. Moreover, more conservative individuals exhibited a stronger learning asymmetry, such that they learned negative stimuli better than positive... Relative to liberals, politically conservative individuals pursued a more avoidant strategy to the game…

The reluctance to explore that characterizes more politically conservative individuals may protect them from experiencing negative situations, for they are likely to restrict approach to known positives."
Natalie J. Shook, PhD, and Russell H. Fazio, PhD, "Political Ideology, Exploration of Novel Stimuli, and Attitude Formation,"  Experimental Social Psychology, Apr. 3, 2009
Fat Bastardo responds: All these creeps understand is fear and punishment.

13. Conservatives tend to have a stronger reaction to threatening noises and images than liberals.
"In a group of 46 adult participants with strong political beliefs, individuals with measurably lower physical sensitivities to sudden noises and threatening visual images were more likely to support foreign aid, liberal immigration policies, pacifism, and gun control, whereas individuals displaying measurably higher physiological reactions to those same stimuli were more likely to favor defense spending, capital punishment, patriotism, and the Iraq War. Thus, the degree to which individuals are physiologically responsive to threat appears to indicate the degree to which they advocate policies that protect the existing social structure from both external (outgroup) and internal (norm-violator) threats."
Douglas R. Oxley, PhD, Kevin B. Smith, PhD, John R. Alford, PhD, Matthew V. Hibbing, PhD, Jennifer L. Miller, Mario Scalora, PhD, Peter K. Hatemi, PhD, and John R. Hibbing, PhD, "Political Attitudes Vary with Physiological Traits,"  Science, Sep. 19, 2008
Fat Bastardo responds: Again... they are a bunch of cowards, wimps and crybabies.

14. Liberals are more open-minded and creative whereas conservatives are more orderly and better organized.
order and creativity"We obtained consistent and converging evidence that personality differences between liberals and conservatives are robust, replicable, and behaviorally significant, especially with respect to social (vs. economic) dimensions of ideology. In general, liberals are more open-minded, creative, curious, and novelty seeking, whereas conservatives are more orderly, conventional, and better organized... A special advantage of our final two studies is that they show personality differences between liberals and conservatives not only on self-report trait measures but also on unobtrusive, nonverbal measures of interaction style and behavioral residue.”
Dana R. Carney, PhD, John T. Jost, PhD, Samuel D. Gosling, PhD, and Jeff Potter, "The Secret Lives of Liberals and Conservatives: Personality Profiles, Interaction Styles, and the Things They Leave Behind,"  International Society of Political PsychologyOct. 23, 2008
Fat Bastardo responds: Had it not not been for liberals man kind would be living in the stone age organizing stones.
15. When faced with a conflict, liberals are more likely than conservatives to alter their habitual response when cues indicate it is necessary.
fish"Our results are consistent with the view that political orientation, in part, reflects individual differences in the functioning of a general mechanism related to cognitive control and self-regulation. Stronger conservatism (versus liberalism) was associated with less neurocognitive sensitivity to response conflicts. At the behavioral level, conservatives were also more likely to make errors of commission. Although a liberal orientation was associated with better performance on the response-inhibition task examined here, conservatives would presumably perform better on tasks in which a more fixed response style is optimal."
David M. Amodio, PhD, John T. Jost, PhD, Sarah L. Master, PhD, and Cindy M. Yee, PhD,"Neurocognitive Correlates of Liberalism and Conservatism,"  Nature Neuroscience, Sep. 9, 2007
Fat Bastardo responds: You know what they say... insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting different results.

16. Conservatives sleep more soundly and have more mundane dreams, while liberals sleep more restlessly and have a more 
bizarre, active dream life.
"Conservatives slept somewhat more soundly, with fewer remembered dreams. Liberals were more restless in their sleep and had a more active and varied dream life. In contrast to a previous study, liberals reported a somewhat greater proportion of bad dreams and nightmares. Consistent with earlier research, the dreams of conservatives were more mundane, whereas the dreams of liberals were more bizarre...

Conservative men sleep a bit longer, with better quality sleep; they recall the fewest dreams, but have the most lucid awareness. Liberal women have the worst quality sleep, recall the greatest number and variety of dreams, and have the most dream references to homosexuality."

Dreaming, Sep. 2006


  1. Good morning Fat Bastardo!!!

    I would like to recommend a book.

    The Science of Why They
    Deny Science - and Reality
    by Chris Mooney

    Chris Mooney is also the best selling author of The Republican War on Science.

    Oh! Speaking of dreams.

    I can remember most of my dream after I wake up from them. In fact, I can remember dreams that I had many years ago when I was a little kid.

    I even had a couple of precognitive dreams. For example . . .

    When I was 12 years old, and our family was still living in Minnesota, I remember a dream that I was riding in the back of a pick-up truck, and it looked like we were going through a desert. There were high mountains in the distance, and cactus everywhere. Then we enter a town, and I remember seeing a street with a whit wavy line down the middle instead of the usual dotted whit line.

    Then, a year later, our family moved to Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. Well, when we entered that town for the first time, there was a wavy whit line down the middle of this one-way street, exactly like I has seen in a dream I had a year earlier. Yeah! When we entered Truth Or Consequences, my mind immediately flashed back to that dream I had a year earlier, the Truth Or Consequence looked exactly like the town in saw in my dream the previous year.

    Weird! Eh?

    I dream like crazy! Even when I lay down for an hour-and-a-half for an afternoon nap, I dream like crazy. And I can remember most of my dreams after I wake up. And I dream in color! And I even have had really bizarre dreams of strange landscapes. I have this thing for high mountains and deep canyons. Imaging seeing a mountain range that is 50 miles high, or looking down into a deep canyon that is 50 miles deep! Imaging a city with skyscrapers a thousand stories high!

    Our family use to go on camping trips in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and we once stayed a couple of days at a KOA camp ground that was at 11,500 feet above sea level. I was about 16 years old at the time, and although I was already obese, I had no problem getting around at that altitude.

    Yeah! Conservatives prefer looking at images of violence. I guess, because I'm a liberal, I prefer looking at beautiful images, which is why I love Astronomy and Geology. I love images of galaxies and star clusters, and images of mountains and canyons.

    Science is beautiful.

    Religion is ugly!

    And, political conservatism is ugly!

    And Republicans are ugly, and they smell bad!

    Big Fat Heretic

  2. The have this siege mentality those Fox News parroting bunker building boy butt buggerers. As folks like us are in a higher intellectual altitude they are still slithering if the primordial ooze.

    I too have had precognitive dreams or dreams of another reality. When I was living in the foot hills of the Catskill Mountains there were these creek beds that would dry up every summer. The town I lived in was separated from another town my a river, elevated train tracks and a highway over pass so that when you were on one side to the river you could not see the other town. Before I was born the trains ran through the town in which I lived and that highway had not been built.

    In a serious of dreams that seemed more like reality than dreams that highway was never built and and the trains still ran through the town. Those streams ran year round and supported a population of brook trout. In that series of dreams I was standing looking at my entire town from across the river as there were no train tracks or elevated highway. All electrical power was out. It was the 70's or 80's and I was in an old wooden hotel bar/lobby and there were kerosene lamp burning. I saw ICBMs flying East and descending. We were in a nuclear war.

    Later in that series of dreams I was living in the desert South West in some sort of Adobe style house. I was with a willowy blonde woman who I suspect was my wife or mate. I was not fat. I felt at peace.


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