Study Predicts Political Beliefs With 83 Percent Accuracy: If you want to know people’s politics, tradition said to study their parents … parents can predict the child’s political leanings about around 70 percent of the time.
But new research, published yesterday in the journal PLOS ONE: Ideological differences between partisans may reflect distinct neural processes, and they can predict who’s right and who’s left of center with 82.9 percent accuracy.
Previous research has shown that during MRI scans, areas linked to broad social connectedness, which involves friends and the world at large, light up in Democrats’ brains. Republicans, on the other hand, show more neural activity in parts of the brain associated with tight social connectedness, which focuses on family and country.
Other scans have shown that brain regions associated with risk and uncertainty, such as the fear-processing amygdala, differ in structure in liberals and conservatives. And different architecture means different behavior. Liberals tend to seek out novelty and uncertainty, while conservatives exhibit strong changes in attitude to threatening situations. The former are more willing to accept risk, while the latter tends to have more intense physical reactions to threatening stimuli.
Building on this, the new research shows that Democrats exhibited significantly greater activity in a region associated with social and self-awareness, during the task. Republicans, however, showed significantly greater activity in a region involved in our fight-or flight response system.
Here's the key passage:
Lead researcher Darren Schreiber, a University of Exeter professor said, “It suggests that politics alters our worldview and alters the way our brains process.”
Here's the typical verbal and unscientific compromise dispensed to the press:
Schreiber says, “If we believe that we’re hardwired for our political views, then it’s really easy for me to discount in you in a conversation. ‘Oh, you’re just a conservative because you have a red brain,’ or ‘Oh, you’re a liberal because you have a blue brain,’” Schreiber explains. “But that’s just not the case. The brain changes. The brain is dynamic.”