Conservatives are more wary than liberals

Conservatives are more wary than liberals
Conservatives are more wary than liberals

Conservatives and liberals have undergone research in the United States. It turned out that political views depend on the degree of fearfulness.


This is evidenced by the studies of American psychologists, which are described in his book "Human Evolution: Monkeys, Neurons and the Soul" by the famous biologist, evolutionary psychologist and popularizer of science Alexander Markov. Even earlier, before the research of scientists from the United States, it was also shown that the fear of getting sick depends on how a person treats foreigners. If the fear of getting sick is high, then there is also a dislike for foreigners. But adherence to one's social group (say, patriotism) is associated with the degree of development of such feelings as disgust.

Psychologists from the United States also decided to check how political views and the severity of physiological reactions to fear correlate (let's just make a reservation that we will use the terms conservative and liberal in the sense in which they are traditionally understood in the United States of America. who oppose abortion, gay pride parades, stem cell research, GMO foods, immigrants, Darwin's theory, and defend the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as rising military spending). The experiment involved 46 volunteers (white Americans) who had clearly expressed political views. First of all, all of them had to answer questions regarding how they relate to the increase in military spending, whether they approve of the death penalty, school prayers, the truth of the Bible, the war in Iraq, the ban on abortion, pacifism, immigration; do they agree that it is necessary to help other countries, make political compromises, do they support sex before marriage, marriage between homosexuals, etc.


Depending on the answers, the volunteers were conditionally divided into “conservatives” and “liberals” (although the authors of the study themselves did not use these terms due to the fact that their questionnaire did not include many features characteristic of conservatism or liberalism, such as, for example, the attitude on topical economic problems, however, the features of liberalism and conservatism on the basis of such a questionnaire, of course, can still be identified).

The second part of the experiment consisted in the fact that each of the participants was shown different pictures on the screen in turn (there were 33 of them in total). 30 of them can be classified as neutral, and only three are those that can cause a reaction of fear. One showed a huge spider sitting on someone's face full of horror, the second a man whose face was bloody, the third depicted a wound in which the larvae of flies swarmed. Special sensors monitored what physiological reactions were given by people who were presented with all these images: whether the person blinked from fright (if so, with what force) and other typical physiological reactions to fear. In the next part of the experiment, the "spectators" were frightened with an unexpected and loud sound.

The conclusion turned out to be the following: people who were concerned about public safety ("conservatives") reacted more physiologically both to the demonstration of "scary" pictures and to a loud sound than those who could be conventionally called "liberals". The statistical significance of this result was also observed after psychologists took into account all sorts of additional reasons that could affect the political position (gender, age, income level, education, etc.).

The results obtained, according to the authors of the study, can be interpreted in different ways.Thus, a direct connection between some and other factors (political views and the severity of fear) seems to them unlikely. In their opinion, both the one and the other, probably, can be a consequence of some common cause. Moreover, it seems that it is not upbringing, since in order to change the "natural" physiological reaction of a child to something frightening, upbringing must be very tough, and in the modern USA the probability of this is low. According to the researchers, the reason probably lies in heredity, in variations in the activity of certain parts of the brain (especially the so-called "amygdala", called by many "the center of fear"), caused by genetics.

Interestingly, even before this experiment, other studies showed that adherents of conservative views, on average, have more amygdala than adherents of liberal views. The conclusions of psychologists from the United States are quite consistent with previous data.

“If our political views are really conditioned by physiology and heredity, then it becomes clear why people hold on to their beliefs so stubbornly and why it is so difficult to achieve political agreement and unanimity in society. And I will not be surprised if soon they will not turn to sociologists, but to specialists in population genetics for predictions of the election results,”concludes Markov.

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