Politically conservative views correlated with larger amygdala, smaller anterior cingulate cortex

Scientists have found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions.
On the otherhand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life. [...]

The results, which will be published next year, back up a (different) study that showed that some people were born with a “Liberal Gene” that makes people more likely to seek out less conventional political views.
The gene, a neurotransmitter in the brain called DRD4, could even be stimulated by the novelty value of radical opinions, claimed the researchers at the University of California. (via.)

19 thoughts on “Politically conservative views correlated with larger amygdala, smaller anterior cingulate cortex

  1. Just as I always suspected, they’re afraid of us because we’re smarter. That’s why they feel the overwhelming need to belitttle us, calling us wimps, when in fact, it’s actually them. Uh,…wait a minute, we’re sposta be smarter, why am I talking like a hostile, irrational conservative.

    Relax, it’s just a joke. I could not resist having a little fun at my own and their expense. I’m glad to see there’s a scientific explanation for their angry and apparently, frequently irrational rage. Of course this evidence will undoubtedly piss them off even more, leading to further denunciation of science as nothing more than devious, intellectual sophistry, used for the sole purpose demeaning those God fearing conservatives, who know all justice emanates from the Bible. Hmm, that was tiring, guess I need a little more volume on that diazapam/prolixin IV.

  2. NeuroInterests?

    You must be joking. You should title the article, “Who cares about neuroscience or the complexity of the brain, let’s hate on “conservatives!”

    ….the brighter side of life”? Absolutely amazing. Not scientific by any means and in fact, quite desperate.

    Liberal views correlated with smaller amygdala?

    Hmmmm. Does that mean “liberals” are abnormal in some way? Does that mean women are abnormal too since men have larger amygdalas then women do?

    Does anyone care about the objective and rational thinking parts of the brain?

    This so called study is absurd and I say that knowing that I am prone to creating and “trying new things”, tending toward frustration with tradition and the status quo, and the complete absence of any memory pertaining to feeling “religious” (maybe that absence of emotional memory is a symptom of my small amygdala).

    Wouldn’t that be interesting to have some comprehensive test that could truly determine whether someone is “liberal” (not a central-planning “democrat” or “leftist”) and truly believed in a diverse society in which individual choice reigned and disagreement was perfectly acceptable?

    These people would surely be in the most extreme minority.

  3. Didn’t write it, just shared it, Stella. I had a few criticisms myself that I withheld. Glad to see you guys are awake.

  4. The PROBLEM, is that despite conservatives’ howls to the contrary, the ONLY time conservatives are actually for smaller government is when it allows them to engage in their rapacious pursuits unhindered by the proscriptions of morality. They’re all for more government when it enforces their own solely fundamentalist, biblical morality on anyone who disagrees. Kinda hard to justify in secular terms.

  5. Lovely, I always knew conservatives were basically primitive beasts. Now we are seeing evolution in action as nature supports the liberal caring mind over the primitive humans. Only a few thousand years and our decendants will look upon conservatives as we look upon neanderthals. Pitiful creatures, doomed to extinction

  6. Neurofreak, “a few criticisms”?

    It’s not science yet being portrayed as such and it is only catering to the hatreds that people have instead of their minds.

    Circulating it without criticism is just as bad as writing it.

  7. The fact is, none of us here are in a position to make an informed, scientific judgement as to the validity of the study. To those of us who agree with its apparent conclusions, it seems entirely reasonable. To the who may not, it is clearly skewed. If the conclusions went against my beliefs, I’d naturally be less enthusiastic about them. They don’t.

    There are many who insist the President was not born in the US and apparently believe it, despite the overwhelming evidence that he was. What constitutes proof? In the end, we all believe what we want and need to believe, convinced it represents the “truth.” Obviously the truth, at least as far as individual perception is concerned, is subjective. Is there an absolute, objective truth based solely on accepted science, I think there is. That won’t convince someone who approaches and decides questions from a religious perspective. That’s irrational to me, not to them. This creates insurmountable difficulties when resolving opposing views on morality and human conduct, as evidenced by untold deaths in the effort by those holding one opinion, trying its proscriptions on the other. In my observation as a historian, that tends to be the side whose “truth” is based on religion as opposed to scientific belief and observation.

  8. I agree that so far nothing is conclusive, although with further research it will be, but what a gift of ‘ put down’ I have been given when in discussions with reactioanaries of either political or religious persuations. If I were religious I would think it a gift from god.

  9. IN DEFENSE OF SCIENCE and to hell with your politics:

    This British “study” claims that the subjective = objective. It asked 90 people what they BELIEVE they are (out of two options) on a scale of 1 to 5 and then scanned a still shot of their brains……..

    FIRST: Did the people in charge of this “study” DEFINE what liberal and conservative is? Did they then quantify this with a margin of error (for subjectivity)? This article doesn’t state this.

    SECONDLY: Did they come up with a way to determine if the person fit into this definition? Quantify this with a margin of error? This article doesn’t state this.

    Exa: A British newspaper article stated that the new law forcing the Catholic Church to adopt babies out to gay couples is an example of the death of LIBERALISM in Britain.

    Someone else would say that it is liberal to forcibly reform the church to “protect gay rights”.

    So which is LIBERAL?

    Obviously the actual meaning of liberalism is freedom, while the political label is a centrally-controlled and perpetually “reformed” society. There are millions of people in the US who are for free-market capitalism and small government who call themselves LIBERAL and who despise social “Conservatives”. There are those in Britain who also still refer to themselves as “liberal” in this classical sense. It’s where America got it from after all. Cameron, the “Conservative” is for gay rights and environmentalism. Blair, “the Liberal” was for attacking foreign countries and a police state in Britain.

    Did this “study” determine the difference between the label and the actual definition of the terms “conservative” and “liberal”? This article does not mention it.

    SECONDLY: Did the “study” consider that men have larger amygdalas and smaller ACCs than women? This article doesn’t state this.

    THIRDLY: Did the “study” determine if a larger size = MORE activity and a smaller size = LESS? Has neuroscience in general established this and if so is it for every case? Is it true in this case? This article doesn’t state this.

    FOURTH: Can the SIZE of one small “part” of the brain DETERMINE a person’s entire outlook on life? This article implies this yet doesn’t explain the apparent lack of contribution of the other parts of the brain or their vastly complex communications.

    Watching those who apply the labels of “Liberal” and “Conservative” to themselves at war with each I realize how much is being destroyed in the process. Tribalism and Zealotry destroy Science, Art, and rational discourse in general. You are all so righteous while you do it. It’s sickening.

  10. So, uh, Stellaaaaaa?

    What’s your point, other than making sure anyone who reads this is abundantly aware that you have absolutely no sense of humor, and probably never did?

  11. I don’t care about your attempt at a personal observation…..generalizing and sweeping as it is.

    This “study” was published in a neuroscience journal and so called reputable newspapers have written articles about it in the same way that this one is written. What’s the joke?

  12. The joke is the absolute seriousness of your response, which only further supports my last comment. Relax. Maybe try referring to the point of one of my earlier comments. The article is not being presented as “irrefutable science.” Even if it were, people will believe what they want and need to believe regardless, so what’s the big fuss? It’s not the headline article in the psychiatric section of JAMA, or the NEJM. If you don’t agree with its methodology, ignore it. No one on the Left is likely to try and use it as the basis for Pol Pot style, reeducation camps for conservatives, however much we may fantasize about the idea. The Right will ignore it the way it ignores everything it doesn’t like, regardless of the soundness of the argument.

    Nothing will be settled by anyone in this forum. For all you know, I could be Ted Kazcynsky, with a secret laptop and email account at Supermax. I’m not, but maybe it’ll help provide a little perspective. The is the INTERNET, remember? Anyone can find some sort of foolishness to support whatever ridiculous idea or theory they may have. The article(s) at issue does no more or less to discredit legitimate science than that jackass, bigot David Barton discredits legitimate historians, my particular field.

  13. Why in the world are you so concerned with my comments yet tell me to relax about a published study that is actually anti-scientific and being circulated among major newspapers? It’s really bizarre.

    The article is here to comment on and I did and now you claim to be in a position to tell me what matters or not. I think I will pass on you telling me what to pay attention to and what to ignore and again, it’s weird that you think that you are in some position to do so.

  14. You are so full of cr*p. You libs spin everything. A larger amygdala is a GOOD thing for social networking, emotions and everything else. Educate yourselves.

  15. Ginny,

    You’re absolutely right. How could we have been so stupid and ignorant? Where was it that your received your Phd in neuroscience or sociology? You seem to have omitted that from your brilliantly astute comment, posted above. Was it by any chance, that esteemed bastion of higher learning, “Liberty University?”

  16. “Where was it that your received your Phd in neuroscience or sociology?”

    Neuroscience and Sociology? Oh boy.

    So can it be a Phd in one OR the other? So much for the hard sciences. The softies want prestige and they will keep pressing up against the scientists like a tumor against the Amygdala until “science” goes up in the tower and starts shooting at anything that moves………an analogy for this so called “study” on the human mind.

  17. Is there a part of the brain or a gene that makes a someone more susceptible to brain-washing through repetition? Sometimes it seems like conservatives tend to argue with more parroted “talking point” sound bytes, repeated verbatim. I used to hate this about the Soviets and other communists because they were always making a point by sloganeering, rather than true debate. I guess irrational extremism is not different at either end of the spectrum. I just keep having impressions of the Bushes (and allies) just repeating short slogans over and over and over, ad nauseum, whereas Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama went beyond and explained positions and ideas in detail. Conservative posters sometimes remind me of teh little boy in the Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore movie that just repeatedly says “Put another quarter in…” as he seems in a trance.

  18. The study makes quite a bit sense. Your’re behaviors and overall personality are determined by its physical characteristics in the brain as everything is material. Therefore, why wouldn’t there be an affect on your political views from the physical characteristics of your brain? Culture does affect the mind but it will ultimately affect the brain’s physical characteristics.

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