Why conservatives, liberals do not see eye-to-eye

Why conservatives, liberals do not see eye-to-eye

Ever wondered why conservatives and liberals never agree with each other in politics?

It’s because they pay attention to their environments differently that makes them not to see eye-to-eye quite literally, a new study has found.

Researchers at the University of Nebraska in the US found that conservatives pay more attention to negative stimuli compared with liberals.

“They (conservatives) are essentially monitoring things that make them feel uncomfortable, which does feel fairly consistent with conservative policies, actually,” study author Mike Dodd, a psychologist at Nebraska, told LiveScience.

“They tend to confront things head-on that they view as threats, things like immigration and so on.”

However, Dodd was quick to note that the kind of stimuli a person pays more attention to does not make them better or worse than someone of another political persuasion. But the findings could suggest a biological basis for political views.

“Based on your biology, you might be experiencing and processing something in a fundamentally different way from someone else,” he added.

For their study, published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Dodd and his colleagues had 48 adults who were strongly conservative or strongly liberal look at a series of 33 pictures.Some of the pictures were pleasant, such as that of a fluffy bunny. Others, including a picture of a maggot-infested wound and another of a man with a spider on his face, were downright disgusting.

While the participants looked at the photos, researchers monitored their skin conductance, a measure of minute changes in sweating that reveals how excited and emotional someone feels, in this case, about a given image.

They found that conservatives responded more strongly to the negative images.

In a second experiment, the researchers repeated the procedure with images of polarising politicians, including Bill Clinton and George W Bush. Again, they found a political difference: Conservatives responded more strongly to leaders they disagreed with, such as Clinton, than they did to politicians they liked.

Liberals, on the other hand, had a stronger physiological reaction to politicians they agreed with than they did to politicians they disliked. The findings provide extra evidence that basic biology may play a role in political choices, Dodd added.Past studies have also uncovered a series of clues suggesting that political preference is somewhat influenced by biology.

Conservatives have been found to be more squeamish than liberals, while liberals pay more attention to the eye movements of others compared with conservatives.
These differences are at the level of reflexes and rely on extremely basic brain processes such as attention.

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