David Amodio, the primary investigator, found that the anterior cingulate cortex for liberals performs differently, allowing them to think more flexibly.
The work grew out of decades of previous research suggesting that political orientation is linked to certain personality traits or styles of thinking. A review of that research published in 2003 found that conservatives tend to be more rigid and closed-minded, less tolerant of ambiguity and less open to new experiences.
It appears that conservatives have not responded well to this work, and some have taken offense. I personally think this kind of work is a fascinating way to try and understand political orientation, but I wonder how much effect this really has.
Furthermore, it would be even more interesting to find out how this brain region could be influences by environmental factors. Like could learning flexibility as a child create more of this ability structurally as an adult? No matter what, this certainly won’t be the last study on politics and psychobiology.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Dec 2007
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Meek, W. (2007). Liberal & Conservative Brain Differences?. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/09/20/liberal-conservative-brain-differences/