Is There a Cure for Liberalism?
Yet another study says biology may lurk in our political beliefs.
December 29, 2010 - 12:34 pm
Maybe! There’s another of those studies out there, that purports to show a biological difference between liberals and conservatives.
People normally respond to “gaze cues,” or the direction that another person is looking, by glancing to see what caught that person’s attention. The new study, to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, finds that liberals respond much more strongly to such cues than conservatives. The finding is the latest in a series of clues that liberals and conservatives may be subtly different on a biological level, said study researcher Michael Dodd, a psychologist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Liberals will probably take this as a sign of increased empathy and niceness among their kind. But there’s another way to look — see what I did there — I did it again! — at all this. Liberals are liberals because they’re more prone to take stands and state their beliefs as a way of seeking others’ approval, without basing them on any bedrock principles, whereas conservatives tend not to give a rip if their politics make them popular. I’ve certainly seen this in action when I lived up in deep blue Maryland.
“Across a variety of tasks, we are beginning to find a consistent pattern where conservatives are more responsive to threat/disgust, more responsive to angry faces, and less sensitive to gaze cues than liberals,” Dodd wrote in an e-mail to LiveScience. “Liberals, on the other hand, are proving to be more responsive to positive/appetitive stimuli, more responsive to happy faces, and more sensitive to gazes.”
I’m with Ace, basically, that there may well be a heightened tendency among conservatives to perceive and assess threats, whereas liberals just assume everybody’s just got the best of intentions at heart. Which, if it’s true, is among the many reasons liberals should never be elected president. A world full of Kim Jong Ils and Vlad Putins and Osama bin Ladens and ayatollahs, Hugo Chavez’s and Castros and other assorted evils in power and in waiting is no place for a smiley face whose natural tendency is to seek the approval of others. We have that now, and it’s not working out so well. A POTUS needs to be geared to defend to the homeland and citizens against threats, as a default response.
As for my thought, that conservatives may tend not to give a rip for the approval of others, the folks behind the study do concede that that’s a possibility.
There are several possible explanations for the result, Dodd said. One possibility is that liberals are more empathetic and thus more responsive to others. Another theory is that conservatives are better at following instructions and were thus more likely to listen when the researchers said to ignore the face.
Dodd and his colleagues believe that a more likely explanation is that conservatives value personal autonomy more than liberals, making them less likely to be influenced by others.
The “better at following instructions” bit is kind of funny, to me. The old cliche about liberals wanting to change the world but being unable to change a tire comes to mind.
But hey, if there is biology lurking in our politics, then there exists the possibility of a pharmaceutical solution. And there exists one more reason to repeal ObamaCare before libs get their hands all the way around the health care system.