Brain Activity Shows What Political Party People Would Choose

By Lisa Franchi on February 19, 2013

The way people choose a political party depends on different factors, such as the popularity of the party, their family affiliation, and so on. But did you know that even without looking at these factors, it is already possible to predict what party a person would choose in the future?

In a study published recently in the journal PLOS One, a team of political scientists and neuroscientists from the University of Exeter and University of California, San Diego explored the differences between the brain functions of American Democrats and Liberals – the two major political parties in the US. Their findings suggest that even though genetics or parental influence does have a significant role in a person’s preference for a political party, looking at the brain activity alone can already tell whether he or she will be a Republican or a Democrat.

Brain’s Choice of Political Party

In an experiment, the researchers were surprised to find that the liberals and the conservatives use different regions of the brain when making risky decisions. For the study, 82 people were invited to play a simple gambling game. While doing the activity, the researchers looked at the brain activities of the participants. Based on their analysis, the Republicans and Democrats don’t actually differ in the risks they take. However, there were striking differences in their brain activities.

In particular, democrats showed significantly greater activity in their left insula – the region of the brain linked to social and self-awareness. On the other hand, Republicans showed greater activity in their right amygdala – the region where flight-or-fight responses are formed.

What’s more surprising is that these differences in brain activity can be used to make an accurate prediction of whether a person is going to be a Republican or a Democrat. Unlike the traditional model in political science which is parental affiliation that only shows 69.5% accuracy in making predictions, the new method shows 82.9% accuracy.

According to Dr Darren Schreiber, a researcher in neuropolitics at the University of Exeter, although genetics may help determine a person’s choice of political party, comparing the activities between the activity in the amygdala and insula does have a larger, more significant effect. 

 

Source of this article:

Red Brain, Blue Brain: Evaluative Processes Differ in Democrats and Republicans

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