Sep 11 2007
For those who ever wondered why conservatives and liberals think so differently, it appears to be more than just a political matter, but that liberals and conservatives use different cognitive styles. Their brains respond differently to new information and decision-making requests ("greater neurocognitive sensitivity to cues for altering a habitual response pattern"). LA Times reports that according to a study published today in the Journal of Nature Neuroscience, "Liberals were 4.9 times as likely as conservatives to show activity in the brain circuits that deal with conflicts, and 2.2 times as likely to score in the top half of the distribution for accuracy." When given a test to press letter M (which appeared most frequently) when seeing the letter on a screen but refrain from pressing W when seeing it on the screen, liberals were more accurate and refrained more frequently from pressing W. In other words, liberals were able to better navigate cognitive conflict and react appropriately when conservatives were more likely to follow an established pattern and express habitual tendencies. Call it knee-jerking.
The results could explain why President Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq war and why some people perceived Sen. John F. Kerry, the liberal Massachusetts Democrat who opposed Bush in the 2004 presidential race, as a "flip-flopper" for changing his mind about the conflict. Based on the results, he said, liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.
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