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April 12, 2011 10:53 PM UTC

"Born this Way?"

  • by: JeffcoBlue

(We’re not saying – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Yahoo! News:…

Using data from MRI scans, researchers at the University College London found that self-described liberals have a larger anterior cingulate cortex–a gray matter of the brain associated with understanding complexity. Meanwhile, self-described conservatives are more likely to have a larger amygdala, an almond-shaped area that is associated with fear and anxiety. [emphasis mine]

“Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual’s political orientation,” lead researcher Ryota Kanai writes of the study in the latest issue of Current Biology. “Our study now links personality traits with specific brain structure.”


The study, which was conducted with the help of 90 young adult volunteers, comes on the heels of other research that linked political beliefs to genetic differences between liberals and conservatives. Last year, a joint study by the Harvard and the University of California, San Diego, found there might actually be a so-called “liberal gene” that influences political leanings.

Take the poll! Were you always such a bleeding heart liberal? Did you come out of a Young Republican closet? Did you grow up in a liberal household, but Reagan “Won Out?” Were you, like Lady Gaga (and Ayn Rand), “Born this Way?” Now’s your chance to fess up!

Do you think you were born with your current political leanings?

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44 thoughts on ““Born this Way?”

      1. Conservatives are more fearful and more and more studies show a biological basis for that. A while back another study showed a stronger startle response in self described conservatives.  

        This all neatly explains why fear mongering and completely ridiculous unfounded conspiracy theories, such as the birthers cling to, are such successful tools in rallying the right.  

        It explains pretty much everything about the Tea Party, with their nonsensical pretensions to populism while standing firmly with the tiny corporate elite against everyone else’s economic interests  including their own because they are so afraid of so many things, mostly a, gasp, black (at least half) President with a funny name!

        It explains survivalists, end timers and Glen Beck.  It explains bigotry, anti-gay hysteria, racism and nativism. It explains state legislatures passing completely silly unnecessary anti-Sharia laws and loons burning Korans.

        It explains why it’s so easy to get Republicans to believe that an American born mixed race centrist is actually a bloodthirsty, Kenyan, Mau Mau loving, whitey hating, secret Muslim, communist, Nazi, socialist, anti-colonialist (like that’s a bad thing) terrorist.

        It really does explain a lot that’s hard to explain otherwise.

          1. and being afraid of anything new, different, “other”.  Also we aren’t talking so much about the pols themselves but the people they manipulate.  R pols know they can always use fear to manipulate their fearful base. D pols are afraid of the success the Rs have had with that technique, a not wholly unreasonable fear.  But now polls should give Dem pols courage.

            I think it’s pretty obvious that liberals feel less threatened and are more open to considering fundamental change, as with attitudes toward gay rights, than conservatives who are deeply suspicious of those they perceive as being not exactly like themselves.

            Liberals are more likely to say “Oh good.  The neighborhood is becoming more diverse, more interesting.” Conservatives more likely to say “Everybody run! Strange people are moving into the neighborhood.

  1. towards kinds of political proposals.  For example, one person might tend to be compassionate and another stingy.

    But, while these instictive attitudes may lead someone to a place on a political spectrum at a given moment, specific policies associated with a place on a political spectrum change.

    There was a time when favoring elections by property owners was a far left idea, in an era of absolute monarchy.  Now, it is a paleoconservative idea relative to universal sufferage.

    The people who might have favored Jim Crow in the 1950s are the people who disfavor affirmative action today.

    The people who are atheists today, probably would have been deists in the late 1700s, and religious humanists in the 1500s.

  2. although I understand the underlying issues, inhibitions, and minutiae in the decision-making matrix of the issue, I’m afraid to answer the question.

  3. Hell no.  As a kid, I supported Eisenhower for President.  I like Ike!  I realize he’d be a “bleeding heart” by today’s standards, but he was considerably to the right of Adlai Stevenson at the time.

    I didn’t become a “bleeding heart” on my own until JFK.  That had as much to do with Nixon as anything else.  And JFK wasn’t exactly a “bleeding heart.”  He was a hawkish fiscal conservative.

    More junk science.

    1. Stevenson but he was no conservative, especially by today’s GOP standards.  Ike, in fact, described himself as liberal, so liking Ike before you liked JFK doesn’t really negate the theory. I’m betting you weren’t a member of any youth group associated with the John Birth Society.

      Besides that, I think we can safely assume that the definition of conservative has changed quite a bit since the days of our youth and these studies are based on  today’s understanding of “conservative” as something far to the right of the old Main Street pro-business variety.

        1. c and t are not keyboard neighbors, though they are reached with the same finger. I did mean to type Birch.  Was not trying to make a too much of a stretch play on words joke.

    2. which are predominately “liberal” or “progressive”, if terms must be used.

      I was raised in a basically conservative Republican family, though my parents were apolitical. Politics were never dicussed, none of my siblings had or have to this day much interest in poltics.

      I absorbed the political conservatism in my family but that  changed in 6 months when I went to college and experienced Kent State (a real turning point for me.) I came to despise the war, Nixon, etc. and became quite radicalized but stayed in the system and worked for McGovern in 1972 ( in contrast, my older brother was supporting George Wallace).

      So i think I was born this way, despite an upbringing and  family environment which initially influenced me otherwise.


  4. and thought it was pretty interesting, particularly the evidence regarding the enlarged amygdala. Quite a few studies have shown that children of domestic violence have a larger amygdala when they are adults–goes to the flight or fight reaction developed in the brain in response to violence.

    Not sure if I’m buying the political aspect of the study though.  

    1. Especially males. It makes them react fast, be impulsive daredevils, be moody, and ready to fight at the slightest provocation. When my three sons are acting up, I remind them to control their amydalas or I am going to control it for them!  

  5. once attacked a man in a restaurant with her purse when he made a disparaging remark about FDR, shortly after his death.

    Genetic liberal…that would be me.

  6. I had a child care business for 11 years. Every preschooler had an intuitive sense, whether they practiced it themselves easily or not, that sharing was the right thing to do. The thought of one child hoarding all the goodies and others going hungry would never occur to them — being a Republican is not genetic! Occassionally, there was the rude, hoarding, selfish, unmanageable child — I suppose they grow up to be like Donal Trump.

    I was a Young Republican in high school because my Mother was a Republican. Dad was a union Democrat until Reagan. They fought constantly. When I was campaigning for Reagan, I read the literature, decided I didn’t agree with anything he stood for, and switched to John Anderson (the independent, I believe). By election day, I was smitten with Mondale. I’ve been pushing the Dems ever since, and KNOW I am on the side of compassion, equality and democracy.

  7. that shows how the brain changes as a result of life experiences. I’ve often wondered if callous people (people who are violent, insensitive or selfish) were neglected rather than nurtured as infants. Check out his research — it is fasinating stuff. The general idea is this: for optimal brain development, an infant needs huge amounts of loving eye-to-eye contact and “lap time” (cuddling, stories, singing, breastfeeding, laughing, etc.) with an adult who loves them. One-on-one is by far the best ratio.

  8.  (I find myself identifying with dems..although I am technically no longer a member of the party) .

    1) Democratic Sperm banks

    2) Secure private funding to support Democratic women who donate eggs.

    3) Pin holes in condoms distributed at Democratic party functions

    4) Raffles for pregnant ladies only at Democratic District meetings

    You get the idea.

    1. In many ways.

      And startling incorrect. How can you read this site and think the liberals are the ones without humor? Ah, I forgot. You scan and post randomly. My bad. How could you have noticed?

          1. For realsies. Well, anything mixed in a joke is fair game. Ha, ha. I would post a racist joke here, but you’re right, I don’t think they’re funny and won’t do it.

            I’m so ashamed.

  9. I was much more liberal in my youth than I am today. I believe that conservatism is an acquired world view, when  liberalism’s idealism gives way to a more sober analysis of the world.

    I’m not trying to offend the predominantly liberal readers of this blog. If anything, I identify with you and offer you some hope.

    1. I hope the GOP types here never poke themsleves in the eye with those sticks they have stuck up their somber asses.

      Not trying to offend anyone, and I really don’t identify with you, just offering you my heartfelt best wishes.

    2. I have a cousin, who is now a retired corporate attorney, who claims that he was a democrat when he was young and idealistic, but then as he got older and started voting his wallet, so now he is a republican.

      Kind of nicely sums up the difference between ideology (not necessarily party affiliation): Liberal = good of the whole, conservative = good for me.  

  10. Never really considered the biological aspects of liberal vs. conservative.

    Liberal dad and apolitical mom.  Raised eight more voters in the house:  three strong Republican siblings, three lifelong Democrats (including me), and two apolitical sisters.

    As a young’un liked JFK, and in ’72 trooped down to the polls to cast my first vote for McGovern, along with the family Dems.  Probably the only votes he got in little ol’ Davie, Florida.

    None in my family ever seemed to have shifted much along the political spectrum.  

    Could be for lack of identity crises, or maybe just plain stubbornness — hard to say.

    1. Florida in ’72 also, Harry. I used to date a girl from Davie back in ’68.

      I remember my McGovern sticker being defaced in a Fort Myers parking lot. My first taste of political violence.  

  11. They were sure that Thomas E. Dewey would defeat Harry S. Truman. They were mean to me when I was little. Then in high school I went through Truman firing Doug MacArthur, fear of Commies in State Dept, Nixon vs. Helen Gahagan Douglas for Senate. My parents hated African Americans, Jush people, Catholics, eastern europeans, asians, anybody not exactly like them. I hung out at Monterey Jazz Festival, San Francisco Blues Festival, folk festivals everywhere. Music has driven my political sensibilities.

  12. They were sure that Thomas E. Dewey would defeat Harry S. Truman. They were mean to me when I was little. Then in high school I went through Truman firing Doug MacArthur, fear of Commies in State Dept, Nixon vs. Helen Gahagan Douglas for Senate. My parents hated African Americans, Jush people, Catholics, eastern europeans, asians, anybody not exactly like them. I hung out at Monterey Jazz Festival, San Francisco Blues Festival, folk festivals everywhere. Music has driven my political sensibilities.

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