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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Conservative Fear Factor Actually Doubly Confirmed

I usually don't post anything this late, but I wanted to get this down while I was thinking about it. I brought up a study yesterday that showed that conservatives' brains have larger areas devoted to fear and smaller areas devoted to courage. Not surprisingly, conservatives aren't very happy to find out that they're basically scaredy cats and are busy poo-pooing the whole thing.

But here's the thing: this study, by the University College London in the UK, wasn't the first to come to a similar conclusion. Where the University College study explained the "fear factor" driving conservatives, an earlier study identified it.

Agence France-Presse, September 2008:

Calm people tend to be liberals, while those who react strongly to sudden noises and threatening images tend to be political conservatives, says a study in the U.S. journal Science today.

"Individuals with measurably lower physical sensitivities to sudden noises and threatening visual images were more likely to support foreign aid, liberal immigration policies, pacifism, and gun control," said the study conducted by U.S. researchers from Rice University in Texas, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Illinois, and the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioural Genetics.

"Individuals displaying measurably higher physiological reactions to those same stimuli were more likely to favour defence spending, capital punishment, patriotism, and the Iraq war," the authors write.

So basically, the more recent study is just confirming and explaining the reasons for what the earlier study found -- that conservatives are big wussy pants. This was something I first began to realize when we started debating whether torturing people and wiretapping everyone was a good idea -- all the conservative arguments boiled down to "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WE HAVE TO BE SAFE!!!" I was more of the opinion that we had to be free.

So, for me at least, both studies are just confirmations of the obvious.

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