Basics of social cognitive and affective neuroscience.
XXIV. Conservatives and liberals


Authors‘ workplace: Oddělení patologie a molekulární medicíny Národní referenční laboratoř prionových chorob Thomayerova nemocnice, Praha Primář: MUDr. František Koukolík DrSc
Published in: Prakt. Lék. 2012; 92(10-12): 535-539
Category: Editorial

Overview

Conservatives and liberals have different functional brain architecture, different physiological responses to stimuli, and activate different brain networks when confronted with similar situations. Genetics influence political attitudes during early adulthood and beyond. When faced with conflict, liberals are more likely than conservatives to alter their habitual response when cues indicate it is necessary. In comparison with liberals, conservatives have stronger reactions to threatening images and noises, spend more time looking at unpleasant images, whereas liberals spend more time looking at pleasant images. Liberals have more tolerance to uncertainty and a larger anterior cingular cortex, conservatives have more sensitivity to fear and have a larger right amygdala. Reliance on quick and “low effort” thought processes yields conservative ideologies, while effortful and deliberated reasoning yields liberal ideologies. Conservatives have stronger motivations than liberals to preserve purity and react more strongly than liberals to disgusting images. Conservatives are less open to new experiences and learn better form negative stimuli than positive stimuli. Political conservatism could be understood as a motivated social cognition with an evolutionary background. Some caution with the transfer of these results into Czech conditions is essential: American conservatives and liberals are similar but not identical to the Czech political right and left.

Key words:
conservatism, liberalism, brain, political decision


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