Can Neuroscience Explain The Paranoid Behavior Of Conservatives?
A new book by Avi Tuschman, Our Political Nature: The Evolutionary Origins of What Divides Us, provides some answers. Salon has published an excerpt:
Statistical tools and laboratory experiments can determine precisely how an individual’s perceptions of human nature can predict his or her political orientation. But first, a very brief tour of more recent political leaders and movements reveals a notable trend: conservatives tend to view human nature as competitive, while liberals are more prone to perceiving human nature as cooperative. …
[F]olk-Darwinism’s ruthless “survival of the fittest” concept is a one-sided (and frequently distorted) view of the fuller scientific picture of evolution that has developed over the second half of the twentieth century. Since the 1960s, biologists have made major advances in understanding how evolution motivates various kinds of altruistic cooperation in nature—in addition to self-interest (which we’ll learn about in part VI). Nonetheless, public opinion’s idea of folk-Darwinism, which situates people in a dangerous jungle world, has generally been evoked to support a right-wing moral philosophy. …
is there any hard proof that right-wingers in general fear a dangerous world any more than run-of-the-mill liberals do? Beyond conventional questionnaires, innovative lab research has shed important light on this human-nature problem. University of New Mexico psychologist Jacob Vigil used computers to alter photographs of human faces; he simplified the photographs into “sketches,” and then blurred them to create emotionally ambiguous expressions. Next, Vigil had 740 adults interpret the emotions on the faces. Republicans were significantly more likely than Democrats to see threatening or dominating emotions in the hazy faces (other factors such as gender, age, and employment status, however, did not affect their perceptions).
Needless to say, the entire excerpt is worth a read.Click here for reuse options!
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