Red Brain, Blue Brain: Republicans and Democrats

ScienceDaily published an article today titled, Red Brain, Blue Brain: Republicans and Democrats Process Risk Differently, Research Finds. As if we didn’t already know this stuff.  Nonetheless, it is an interesting read that distinguishes R’s from D’s, or actually, progressives v. conservatives.  Here’s a telling difference:

Democrats showed significantly greater activity in the left insula, a region associated with social and self-awareness. Meanwhile Republicans showed significantly greater activity in the right amygdala, a region involved in the body’s fight-or-flight system. These results suggest that liberals and conservatives engage different cognitive processes when they think about risk.

Is this why R’s seem to cling to their guns and bunkers while D’s think about social ramifications?  That’s been evident to me for quite some time. As this research points out, it is difficult to resolve these basic issues between progressives and conservatives.  So why bother?

Republicans and Democrats differ in the neural mechanisms activated while performing a risk-taking task. Republicans more strongly activate their right amygdala, associated with orienting attention to external cues. Democrats have higher activity in their left posterior insula, associated with perceptions of internal physiological states. This activation also borders the temporal-parietal junction, and therefore may reflect a difference in internal physiological drive as well as the perception of the internal state and drive of others.
Republicans and Democrats differ in the neural mechanisms activated while performing a risk-taking task. Republicans more strongly activate their right amygdala, associated with orienting attention to external cues. Democrats have higher activity in their left posterior insula, associated with perceptions of internal physiological states. This activation also borders the temporal-parietal junction, and therefore may reflect a difference in internal physiological drive as well as the perception of the internal state and drive of others.

The last line of the caption, may reflect a difference in internal physiological drive as well as the perception of the internal state and drive of others  is an important point.  I interpret the last part- the perception of the internal state and drive of others- as a judgmental factor that clearly distinguishes R’s from D’s. It has been my observation that R’s often make prejudicial judgments  of a social group and castigate an entire group for the actions of one or two.  D’s on the other hand observe the individual as separate from their ‘group’ and judge the person and his/her actions.

Anyone else come to this conclusion?

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4 thoughts on “Red Brain, Blue Brain: Republicans and Democrats

  1. It’s simply intellectual and moral laziness. It’s harder to be progressive than a conservative, because it’s easier to give someone the finger than a helping hand.

    1. As UtF said, yours is a succinct summary of my post. Maybe I ought to give up attempting to understand the other side, especially now that there is some scientific explanation of what goes on inside their skull.

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