Here in the U.S., we’re in the thick of the presidential-primary season, and differences between Democrats and Republicans are stark. During Thursday night’s Democratic debate, for instance, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders praised Barack Obama’s leadership. In last night’s Republican debate, on the other hand, the candidates agreed that Obama is destroying America; they merely disagreed about whether he is destroying the U.S. on purpose or is simply too stupid to realize that’s what he’s doing.
Clearly, conservatives and liberals see things differently. Noting those differences, social scientists have begun asking why. With the aid of high-tech imaging systems, researchers have found actual differences between the brains of liberals and conservatives.
This is just speculation on my part, but maybe both modes of thinking are important to the survival, in a Darwinian sense, of the human species. If so, we would be wise to respectfully consider the insights that the other party offers instead of automatically rejecting it.
Below, I’ve pasted snippets from and links to several articles concerning the differences in the brains of conservatives and liberals.
RED BRAIN, BLUE BRAIN: EVALUATIVE PROCESSES DIFFER IN DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS
By Darren Schreiber, et al., February 13, 2013
Liberals and conservatives exhibit different cognitive styles and converging lines of evidence suggest that biology influences differences in their political attitudes and beliefs. In particular, a recent study of young adults suggests that liberals and conservatives have significantly different brain structure, with liberals showing increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, and conservatives showing increased gray matter volume in the in the amygdala.
CONSERVATIVE AND LIBERAL BRAINS MAY BE WIRED DIFFERENTLY
By Amina Khan, November 3, 2014
Think your political beliefs arise from logic and reason? Think again. A team of scientists who studied the brains of liberal, moderate and conservative people found that … the brains of liberals and conservatives may indeed be wired differently….
UNCONSCIOUS REACTIONS SEPARATE LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES: Psychological insights might tone down the bitter feuding between Democrats and Republicans
By Emily Laber-Warren, September 1, 2012
According to the experts who study political leanings, liberals and conservatives do not just see things differently. They are different—in their personalities and even their unconscious reactions to the world around them.
LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES RELY ON DIFFERENT SETS OF MORAL FOUNDATIONS
By Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt, and Brian A. Nosek
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2009, Vol. 96, No. 5, 1029–1046
Political views are multifaceted, but a single liberal– conservative (or left–right) continuum is a useful approximation that has predictive validity for voting behavior and opinions on a wide range of issues (Jost, 2006). In terms of political philosophy, the essential element of all forms of liberalism is individual liberty (Gutmann, 2001). Liberals have historically taken an optimistic view of human nature and of human perfectibility; they hold what Sowell (2002) calls an “unconstrained vision” in which people should be left as free as possible to pursue their own courses of personal development. Conservatism, in contrast, is best under- stood as a “positional ideology,” a reaction to the challenges to authority and institutions that are so often mounted by liberals (Muller, 1997). Conservatives have traditionally taken a more pessimistic view of human nature, believing that people are inher- ently selfish and imperfectible. They therefore hold what Sowell called a “constrained vision” in which people need the constraints of authority, institutions, and traditions to live civilly with each other.