Why convincing staunch Democrats to vote Republican is almost impossibleSeptember 19th, 2008 - 2:21 pm ICT by ANI
London, September 19 (ANI): The different reactions about Sarah Palins selection as the U.S. Republican vice presidential candidate may have a basis in biology, if the findings of a new study are to be believed.
“Traditionally, political scientists have focused on the environmental aspects: school, the media, the family, the church, as the things that lead to beliefs they have,” New Scientist magazine quoted Douglas Oxley, a political scientist at the Lincoln-based University of Nebraska, as saying.
He and his colleagues have now found that social conservatives react more strongly to shocking images and sudden noises, by sweating more and blinking harder, as compared to liberals.
The researcher says that such innate threat responses suggest that there should be a biological, and perhaps genetic, basis for peoples political beliefs.
For their study, Oxley and Nebraska colleagues Kevin Smith and John Hibbing quizzed 46 people on their political views.
The subjects were questioned on topics ranging from the war in Iraq to capital punishment and premarital sex, said the researchers.
All the participants had strongly held beliefs that identified them as socially liberal or socially conservative, they added.
The subjects were shown random pictures two months after the survey, and the researchers measured how imperceptible changes in their perspiration affected skin conductivity.
The team observed that conservative participants sweated more than their liberal counterparts when an image of a bloodied face or maggot-filled wound appeared, even after accounting for differences that might be due to sex, income, age or education.
The same result appeared once again when the subjects response to a loud, random noise was tested.
Hibbing said that the conservatives blinked a little bit harder than the liberals, an innate response to a threat.
“Liberals will probably say conservatives are scaredy cats,” while conservatives might call liberals naive, Hibbing said.
“The more important point is that people differ,” he added.
Oxley and Hibbing believe that some genetic differences underlie our political leanings, for a previous study had also shown that certain mutations affect the way a region of the brain called the amygdala reacts to fearful images.
The researchers are of the view that such innate differences may help understand why convincing a staunch Democrat to vote Republican is almost impossible, and vice versa.
“When we have two talking heads screaming at each other, they”re not going to convince each other of what they believe if they are pre-disposed to have those beliefs,” Oxley said.
“It’’s probably a positive thing if we have a mix of people who have beliefs in politics that are protective of society and also politics that are more risk-taking,” he added.
A research article on the present study has been published in the journal Science. (ANI)
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