Previous psychological studies have found that conservatives tend to be more structured and persistent in their judgements whereas liberals are more open to new experiences. The latest study found those traits are not confined to political situations but also influence everyday decisions.Although I have not yet read the study itself, I think that one should be very careful about assigning a value judgement on either type of cognitive processing. Equally, there is no suggestion of causality: that a person whose brain works a particular way necessarily associates with a political bent, or that a particular way of perceiving the world necessarily trains the brain to work in one way or the other. Still, as the article suggests, it may explain why a reasoned conversation between a die-hard conservative and a staunch liberal is so difficult to achieve.
The results show "there are two cognitive styles -- a liberal style and a conservative style," said UCLA neurologist Dr. Marco Iacoboni, who was not connected to the latest research. ... Frank J. Sulloway, a researcher at UC Berkeley's Institute of Personality and Social Research who was not connected to the study, said the results "provided an elegant demonstration that individual differences on a conservative-liberal dimension are strongly related to brain activity."
Sulloway said the results could explain why President Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq war and why some people perceived Sen. John F. Kerry, the liberal Massachusetts Democrat who opposed Bush in the 2004 presidential race, as a "flip-flopper" for changing his mind about the conflict.
[Technorati tags: la times | nature neuroscience | cognition | liberal | conservative]