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Here are a couple of recent articles on liberals vs conservatives, bigotry, and links to subjects related to why we think and act the way we do.
My son, a neuroscientist, says, "Drawing broad conclusions about motivations based on relative size of brain regions or increased levels of activity can be fraught with complications, so tread carefully as you read." He refers to, Neuroscience - Under Attack - NYTimes.com
, where among other things they reference,
They conclude on a lighter note with, "Brain imaging, no matter how sophisticated and precise, will ever tell us what women really want."
Nonetheless I'll go ahead and refer to some recent articles below which you will have to evaluate yourself.
Conservatives and Liberals Have Different Brains, Studies Show - ABC News Sept. 2012
This report comes from Differences in Conservative and Liberal Brains - ProCon.org.
They gathered 13 peer-reviewed studies of behavioral and neurological studies and come to the conclusion that differences between Republicans and Democrats are more than skin-deep.
Below are a few of their observations. See the ProCon article for the complete list.
Researchers noted that Democrats had larger anterior cingulate cortexes, which are associated with tolerance to uncertainty, while Republicans had larger right amygdalas, which are associated with sensitivity to fear.
Conservatives have more activity in their dorsolateral prefrontal cortices, the part of the brain that activates for complex social evaluations. The observation that this region was increasingly activated by conservative beliefs could be explained by claiming that conservative statements require more complex social judgments marked by greater cognitive dissonance between self-interest and sense of fairness...
I thought the 2nd study, which concluded, "Low-Effort Thought Promotes Political Conservatism", sounded a little biased, but one thing they did was to have Participants indicate their political attitudes by responding to several statements; half did so while their cognitive resources were depleted by working on a second task concurrently. So it not that conservatives are lazy and don't think things thru they just are distracted or more interested in social impacts.
Liberals are more open-minded and creative whereas conservatives are more orderly and better organized.
Psychiatrist Greg Appelbaum said the studies point toward conservatives' tendency to avoid something called self-harm, while liberals avoid collective group harm.
ProCon.org seems to have a liberal bias. I did a web search and there were a few complaints of ProCon.org bias, but no specific examples of blatant mistakes or distortions.
Nature vs Nurture
A Nov 18, 2012 60 minutes program "Born good? Babies help unlock the origins of morality" highlights a study at Yale's "Baby Lab". Paul Bloom, professor of Psychology has been studying the moral life of babies for many years and has recently discovered that, perhaps, there is evidence children as young as six-months old have biases against certain people.
Bloom and his associates would offer a child either cereal or crackers and note their decision. Later, the researchers would set the child in front of a couple puppets and the child would watch as the puppets chose whether to eat cereal or crackers, too. Later, the child was offered the chance to hold one of the puppets. Around 87% of the time, children would choose the puppet that picked the same food they'd earlier chosen.
See How to Lead People Past Anger and Hate (New Study Suggests We Were Born With Prejudices) | Storyline Blog
Here's my take for what it's worth. My son, a neuroscientist, doesn't buy it.
A couple of our recent Bible studies I attend we discussed dealing with enemies (forgiveness, tolerance, ...)
I got to thinking about why most people, including myself, have an enemies list, even if it is unconscious. It isn't just Nixon and Hillary!
In our 300,000 year history as a species, homo sapiens have gone thru multiple famines. When visiting the Copan ruins in Honduras mission trips they speculated that the Mayans may have died out because their population grew too fast and they could not survive a long famine.
Societies who could keep their populations at an optimal level had a survival advantage. Without the pill, identifying enemies and driving them away or killing them was a good way to do this.
These survival instincts come from the inner brain (Limbic system) where things like emotions, fear, anger, sex come from.
Since the green revolution (synthetic fertilizers, mechanical harvesters, ...) in the last 120 years, developed countries have not had a food problem. But global warming and population growth could change that.
Since we have enough food, the need to impress others may have replaced survival as a primary motivator in developed societies. Materialism and social ideologies are two things people use to get respect. Governments and politicians, who want to take money away from the well off to provide food and health care to the less well off are restricting our ability to accumulate stuff. So they and the people who vote for them become our enemies.
See also The Hate Gene