Saturday, September 20, 2008

Conservatives scare easier than Liberals

Excerpted from the UK Times:
In the study, the scientists recruited 46 volunteers living in Lincoln, Nebraska, all of whom had strong political beliefs. They were asked for their opinions on a wide variety of controversial issues. All the questions concerned social or international issues, rather than economic matters.

The participants were then given two laboratory tests, to establish their physiological responses to frightening or unexpected stimuli. In the first test, they viewed 33 images, three of which were distressing or threatening: a large spider on the face of a frightened person; a dazed person with a bloody face; and maggots in an open wound. The scientists measured the electrical conductance of the skin, a standard measure of distress and arousal.

In the second test, the volunteers were subjected to a loud, unexpected noise, with scientists measuring the involuntary blinking that followed. A strong startle response is indicative of heightened fear and arousal. The results, which are published in the journal Science, revealed significant differences in both responses, which corresponded with people’s political views. Those with “markedly lower physical sensitivity to sudden noises and threatening visual images” tended to support liberal positions, while those with strong responses tended to be more conservative.

This would fit with the hypothesis that people who have more fearful responses to perceived threats are more likely to be conservative, while those who have weaker responses develop more liberal views.

Of course I already knew this considering I grew up around this crap my whole life...

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