Republicans: Easily Startled

By | September 19, 2008

Boo! Ah! I see you are a republican. Keep watching the monkey. It is going to scream and spiders will pop out of its eyes. Just kidding. … or am I?

Your stance on key political issues may be directly related to how jumpy you are, a small but compelling new study suggests.

In the study, released Thursday in the journal Science, Rice University professor of political science John Alford and his colleagues studied 46 subjects with strong political beliefs. They subjected these people to startling stimuli then compared responses with their stated viewpoints on key political issues.

Those subjects who were the most startled by the unexpected or disturbing stimuli were also the ones who were most likely to favor such issues as increased defense spending, capital punishment, patriotism, and the Iraq War.

The people who were less startled by the stimuli, which included such things as a spider crawling across the face of a terrified person or loud, unexpected noises, tended to support foreign aid, liberal immigration policies, pacifism and gun control….

The study is not the first to tie certain patterns of brain response to potential voting behavior. Marco Lacoboni, a professor of neurology at UCLA, conducted a study last year in which he used a functional MRI to peer into the brains of those presented with political imagery and see how their brain response matched up with their political leanings.

“This is a really clever study,” Lacoboni says. “This research shows that all of our decisions are really rooted in biology. It’s not just the rational thought of the brain that we use to reach decisions, but also our emotional ones.”… Alford hopes his work may help foster greater understanding between conservatives and liberals.

“Much of the current political discussion disparages people’s intellectual ability,” he says. “Maybe we can be a little less uncivil in our political discussions when we understand that not everyone has the same gut reaction or the same insulation from that reaction.” – abc

0 thoughts on “Republicans: Easily Startled

  1. Ann

    “This research shows that all of our decisions are really rooted in biology. It’s not just the rational thought of the brain that we use to reach decisions, but also our emotional ones.”

    Oh, here we go, if it’s not rooted in genetics, it’s rooted in “biology.” Let’s leave all the social stuff that surrounds us every minute of the day, everyday of our lives, out of the picture.

    Having worked with and studied people and societies long enough … I can say: of course, biology plays a part, but it is just that, only a part, of no less importance than the social phenomena that surrounds us.

  2. Xeno Post author

    A larger well designed study might show that no matter what happened in your environment, if you are more jumpy biologically, you will have republican views.

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