View Full Version : Right- and left-wingers found to look at things differently—literally

30th January 2012, 19:35
Very interesting.

Right- and left-wingers found to look at things differently—literally (http://www.world-science.net/othernews/120125_eyes)

From ca­ble TV news pun­dits to red-meat speeches, deep po­lit­i­cal stereo­types are on full dis­play in the un­fold­ing U.S. elec­tion sea­son. Con­ser­va­tives paint self-in­dul­gent lib­er­als as in­suf­ferably ab­sent on ur­gent na­t­ional is­sues. Lib­er­als say fear-mongering con­ser­va­tives are fix­at­ed on ex­ag­ger­at­ed dan­gers to the coun­try.

A new U.S. study sug­gests there are bi­o­log­i­cal truths to such broad brush­strokes.

In a se­ries of ex­pe­ri­ments, re­search­ers closely mon­i­tored phys­i­o­logical re­ac­tions and eye move­ments of study par­ti­ci­pants shown com­bina­t­ions of both pleas­ant and un­pleas­ant im­ages. Con­ser­va­tives re­acted more strongly to, fix­at­ed more quickly on, and looked long­er at the un­pleas­ant im­ages; lib­er­als had stronger re­ac­tions to and looked long­er at the pleas­ant im­ages com­pared with con­ser­va­tives.

“It’s been said that con­ser­va­tives and lib­er­als don’t see things in the same way,” said Mike Dodd, a psy­chol­o­gist at the Uni­vers­ity of Nebraska-Lincoln and the stu­dy’s lead au­thor. “These find­ings make that clear – quite lit­er­al­ly.”

Par­ti­ci­pants were shown a se­ries of im­ages on a screen. Elec­trodes at­tached to the skin meas­ured sub­tle elec­tri­cal changes, in­dic­a­tive of emo­tion­al re­ac­tions. Par­ti­ci­pants were al­so out­fit­ted with eye­track­ing equip­ment that cap­tured even the most sub­tle of eye move­ments. Re­search­ers found that while lib­er­als’ gazes tended to fall up­on the pleas­ant im­ages, such as a beach ball or a bun­ny rab­bit, con­ser­va­tives fo­cused on the neg­a­tive im­ages – of an open wound, a crashed car or a dirty toi­let, for ex­am­ple.

Con­sist­ent with this pat­tern, con­ser­va­tives al­so ex­hib­ited a stronger phys­i­o­logical re­sponse to im­ages of Dem­o­crat­ic politi­cians – pre­sumed to be a neg­a­tive to them – than they did on pic­tures of well-known Re­pub­li­cans. Lib­er­als, on the oth­er hand, had a stronger phys­i­o­logical re­sponse to the Democrats – pre­sumed to be a pos­i­tive stim­u­lus to them – than they did to im­ages of the Re­pub­li­cans.

By stu­dying both phys­i­o­logical and cog­ni­tive as­pects, the re­search­ers es­tab­lished un­ique new in­sights in­to the grow­ing no­tion that po­lit­i­cal lean­ings are at least par­tial prod­ucts of our bi­ol­o­gy, po­lit­i­cal sci­ent­ist and study co-au­thor Kev­in Smith of the uni­vers­ity said.

Re­cent re­search on the sub­ject has fo­cused mostly on phys­i­o­logical re­ac­tions to neg­a­tive stim­u­li. The new stu­dy’s use of cog­ni­tive da­ta re­gard­ing both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive im­age­ry adds to the un­der­stand­ing of how lib­er­als and con­ser­va­tives ex­perience the world, Smith said.

Po­lit­i­cal sci­ent­ist and co-au­thor John Hib­bing, al­so at the un­ivers­ity, said the re­sults might mean that those on the right are more at­tuned and at­ten­tive to aver­sive el­e­ments in life and are more nat­u­rally in­clined to con­front them. From an ev­o­lu­tion­ary stand­point, that makes sense, he said.

The re­sults al­so are con­sist­ent with con­ser­va­tives’ sup­port of poli­cies to pro­tect so­ci­e­ty from per­ceived ex­ter­nal threats (sup­port for in­creased de­fense spend­ing or op­po­si­tion to im­migra­t­ion) and in­ter­nal ones as well (sup­port for tra­di­tion­al val­ues and be­ing tough on crime), Hib­bing said.

The re­search­ers con­tend their dis­cov­ery of­fers an op­por­tun­ity to rec­og­nize the rel­e­vance of deeper bi­o­log­i­cal vari­ables in pol­i­tics and re­duce po­lit­i­cal po­lar­iz­a­tion. Rath­er than be­liev­ing those with op­po­site po­lit­i­cal views are un­in­formed or will­fully ob­tuse, the au­thors said, po­lit­i­cal tol­er­ance could be en­hanced if it was widely un­der­stood that po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences are based in part on our phys­i­o­lo­gic­al and cog­ni­tive dif­fer­ences.

“When con­ser­va­tives say that lib­er­als are out of it and just don’t get it, from this stand­point, that’s true,” Hib­bing said. “And when lib­er­als say ‘What are (con­ser­va­tives) so fright­ened of? Is the world really that dan­ger­ous?’ Giv­en what each side sees, what they pay at­ten­tion to, what they phys­i­o­logi­c­ally ex­perience – the an­swer is both sides are right.”

30th January 2012, 20:42
Interesting stuff, thank you. Carl Jung had something to say on this. He equated a left wing political awareness to the wonder and love of a child, and a right wing political awareness to the world-weariness and fear of the old. I believe that in saying this, he meant the age and inclination of our awareness, not our bodies. In a seperate but related idea, Jung equated the old and new testaments of the Christian bible with stages of spiritual and emotional awareness, with the old testament God being like a spoiled brat given to temper tantrums and lots of smiting and stuff, and Jesus with a more mature and balanced, heart-based perception. Important to differentiate between "childlike" and "childish". I would say that left-wing awareness and Jesus are "childlike", and right-wing awareness and the old testament god to be "childish". Love is childlike, fear is childish, and Jesus did say "we should become as little children", and "anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it".

30th January 2012, 21:00
I have long thought Republicans are fear based thinkers. And wondered why. And how they all conglomerated together like that. Thanks Rahkyt!

30th January 2012, 21:02
Yes both are heart and mind sets, and we got fooled into thinking they were political parties.

Conservative people regardless if they have no interest in politics behave a certain way. So do liberals who no have no interest or care in politics. we've all met very conservative people and more liberal people in our lifetimes that have nothing to do with politics.

The sort of programming people have endured during their lifetime will demonstrate where they will gravitate to. If a woman is forced against her will to have an abortion, this sort of trauma would make the extreme conservative party very appealing to her even after it withdrew all its funding for helping people like her.

. And part of the reason we feel politics fails us because we think its a series of principals, its not really, they are both conditionable mind and heartsets. If we stuck with the principals of both parties, things would make a lot more sense at least we'd have an understanding of where the other side was coming from, but when we realize they are put out there to program people based on us, as individuals, programming.

For people who have a bit of clarity we begin to see this. To many many people in the US they have no idea. They think they are upholding principals, which are okay principals in theory, but its really just a form of emotionanal manipulation. You will notice that neither side sticks to practical matters like money, economy, or basic needs. They appeal to emotional heart strings. The cons say "Save the Babies" the Liberals scream "Save the Whales"

Both noble principals but they come with a lot of emotional attachments like the woman who was forced traumatically to have an abortion...but these notions as we have seen are never acted on. Neither baby not whales are being saved. This is why politics will grow so extreme. Because they stalemate each other, each side grows a faction that gets more adamant about its principals because they are constantly thwarted from within. They are essentially the same schism and who goes where depends on if they are essentially conservative or liberal.

Knowing that I felt very sorry for people who go into politics with high ideals and wanting to promote real change and then find out it's all just a program. Like a TV show. Not real, just for show.

At one point early in our history politics was just a way to organize people, now it's an outlet for control.

We will begin to have more control once we know this is at work.

31st January 2012, 16:46
Great thoughts, thank you all for sharing. Music and Sierra, I have to agree about fear-based actions based upon thought-processes. The article says that evolution can account for it. I suppose that our human tribes must have those who always watch the forests, spears pointed outwards. Not so easy when the tribe becomes a nation made up of people who don't look or think like you. The fear response must arise quite often.

9eagle9, I think this explanation is so simple and so imminently provable that it will be hard for anyone to gainsay it. Not that it is necessarily a bad thing in the long karmic run, all these things must be and everybody is exactly who they are supposed to be and not at the same spot on the same path as other folks. People are going in different directions and that's life.

31st January 2012, 17:52
I suspect i am like most Americans. I have some liberal views and some conservative views. I wonder where i fit in this equation?

31st January 2012, 18:33
I have 'Never' bought into this 'Right Wing' - 'Left Wing' stuff and 'Never' will, I'm only into the 'Truth'..!

Just another way for the PTW/OWO Con to seperate us..!

31st January 2012, 20:54
I really don't like the term "fear-based". I prefer "reality-based," meaning that we aren't searching for an ideal, but something functional. Some people are survivors and idealists. I'm a survivor and I'm a realist. I always try to look on the bright side of things and look for the best in everyone, but I want to understand the cause/effect of change because change isn't always good. That's just my life experience and I learned it in hard situations.

(It's ironic because, as I write this, I see what a total square I am, but I'm the one who is always trying to get my husband to try and do new things!) (I'm a Sag/he's Cancer for the curious). Stability is a huge thing for us....as you may have guessed!

"Toe-mato"/"tah-mato". It is what it is. Good post!

2nd February 2012, 00:38
Well, choosing not to buy into something does not at all mean that it doesn't reflect something real. That's what this study is showing. That there are very real differences that go beyond the surface of political parties to make a point about things that show people as being of different orientations at deeper levels. I think we all have views of both kinds. I'm a protector of sorts, ex boy scout, military, so I have a lot of security oriented views. Yet, I'm all about equality of outcome, which tends to highlight the best in folks. We're all full of contradictions. :wave: