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Scientists discover biological differences between liberals and conservatives

The scientists were able to predict political behavior just by looking at an fMRI brain scan and published in the rigorous scientific journal -PNAS

Polarized opinions in the US. Image:
Opinions are polarized in the US. Image:

Research reveals that partisanship has biological origins.

According to the largest study of its kind, brain scans of people taken while they were engaged in various activities or even doing nothing accurately indicated whether they were politically conservative or liberal.

The researchers found that the brain "signatures" discovered in the scans were as good predictors of political ideology as the strongest predictor often used in political science, parental ideology.

Can we understand political behavior just by looking at the brain? The answer is a very resounding yes, said study co-author Skyler Cranmer, a professor of political science at Ohio State University.

"The results show that the biological and neurological origins of political behavior are much deeper than we previously thought."

The study, recently published in the journal PNAS Nexus, is the largest to date to examine political ideology using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans of the brain.

He is also one of the few who studied functional connectivity in relation to ideology. Using a whole-brain approach, they looked at which areas of the brain showed similar patterns of activity while performing specific tasks, an indication that they were communicating with each other.

The researchers used advanced artificial intelligence methods and the resources of the Ohio Supercomputing Center to analyze the scans. They discovered correlations between the results of the scans and the person's reported ideology on a six-point scale from "very liberal" to "very conservative."

The Ohio State University Wellbeing Study, which involved 174 healthy people who performed common tasks used in scientific investigations while inside an fMRI scanner, provided the data for the study.

"None of the eight tasks was designed to elicit partisan responses," said study co-author Saw Yoon Yang, now a senior lecturer in political science at Northeastern University, who did the work as a doctoral student in Ohio.

"But we found that the scans from all eight tasks were related to their identification as liberals or conservatives."

In fact, even when the participants were asked to sit still and not think much about anything, their scans showed a connection to political ideology, said co-author James Wilson, a senior lecturer in psychiatry and biostatistics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

"Even without any stimulus, brain connectivity can help us predict a person's political leanings," Wilson said.

The scans from all eight tasks predicted participants' ideology, but three tasks had particularly strong relationships.

One was an empathy task, in which participants were shown pictures of emotional people with neutral, happy, sad, and fearful faces. The second task tested episodic memory and the third was a reward task where participants could earn or lose money based on how fast they pressed a button.

Only the scans of the prize task could predict political extremism—those who said they were very conservative or very liberal. And only the empathy task (emotional faces) had a clear connection to moderate ideology.

"More work needs to be done to understand the relationship of award decision-making with extreme political views," Wilson said.

"From the results with the empathy task it appears that there may be a close connection between political thought and emotions and emotional reactions."

This study found a link between brain signatures and political ideology, but it can't explain what caused what, Cranmer said.

"What we don't know is whether the signature in the brain is there because of the ideology the people chose or whether the ideology of the people was caused by the signatures we found," he said.

"It may be a combination of the two, but our research does not have the data to address this question."

for the scientific article (PNAS)

More of the topic in Hayadan:

14 תגובות

  1. I think I read about this study in English a few months ago, or a similar study.
    According to which one should understand that conservatism or liberalism is a character. Not a wise choice. In the study I read about, the distinction was exactly 70%. It's not very, very high accuracy, but certainly impressive. He tested the connection between the amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for fear-based responses) and another part of the brain. The larger the amygdala, the more conservative the person was, and with liberals the part responsible for absorbing new information and making decisions based on change based on the new information is increased.

    And of course, this relationship is not black and white, and therefore the people with whom the relationship is not clear have the ability to change their mind about their political positions if there is a clear reason.

  2. It can be estimated that there is something in the research and it is possible that a certain classification can be created, but there are many variables here that can affect the research and the conclusions, especially regarding the projection and connection of certain features to the different groups,
    We will look at one of the many options regarding empathy such as what type of images did you choose? Are the images really neutral?
    Is it really possible to create neutral images that are universal?
    If we assume that the researchers have affiliations to one side of the equation and have chosen images that they perceive as creating empathy
    or from the group of selected photos taken and drawn by people associated with a certain side,
    It is likely that the photos created empathy on the side that shares the same world view and the other side is less likely to connect,
    Is it possible that if the photos are taken or created by the other party, we will suddenly receive something opposite in the inspection?

  3. From a personal point of view:
    Differences in the reflection of the brain's electromagnetic activity indicate the nature of interrelationships between
    Personal consciousness whose media / infrastructure of expression is the space of consciousness - MIND SPACE,
    The biological brain belonging to the physical/material space.
    and gives us a measure of the qualities, levels of development and shades of each and every one's personal consciousness.

  4. The report on this "research" is quite general. It is not possible to really understand the methodology - it is not clear what patterns of brain activity are involved, what is the relationship between the variables and why, what is considered to change, what is the size of the data and the number of participants, and how the data was analyzed, etc. And it's suspicious.
    By the way, it is interesting to think about what happens to people who change their approach from right to left or vice versa. Does this mean that their brain activity patterns changed, at the same time?
    According to the "research" it turns out that the answer to this is positive... It's ridiculous, it's stupid, and it raises the question of who is really behind this "research", and why such a strange item is published in a popular science newspaper in Israel without a single word of doubt or skepticism.

  5. Sorry, but to me it sounds like "research" under the auspices of the World Economic Forum. No thanks!

  6. Pseudo science of the type of the "criminal man" theory, eugenics and "personology" - we know where this leads, racism and extermination camps!
    It's a shame and disgrace that it appears on this site, but it's not surprising, it's quite consistent with the lost science of "global warming (or climate change") caused by humans", theories of gender change by cosmetic surgery and amputation.

  7. Nazis measured skull and nose, filtered people by skin and eye color. Technologies will soon make it possible to create an ultimate regime when immediately after birth a baby will be examined... the next step is the "correction" of the signature and adaptation to the needs of the regime...

  8. *There is a direct relationship between socioeconomic status, secularism and level of education - to liberalism*,
    #The physiological expression - only a symptom#:
    Trump supporters - uneducated conservative farmers.
    Biden supporters - educated urban liberals.
    Netanyahu supporters - an uneducated religious fringe.
    Supporters of the government of change - educated urban secularists

  9. A bit reminiscent of studies that state that a certain race can be identified by the size of the nose.

  10. Liberals and conservatives are less interesting to me. I want to know what the biological difference is between the soft right and the hard right.
    come on…

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