I'd like to believe in free will and our ability to reason, but, as we march on, the window of free will continues to shrink.
A large spider on someone's face, a bloodied person and maggot-filled wound - these are the pictures instrumental to John Alford's latest research. This Rice University political scientist wanted to test what, if any, impact biology may have on one's political orientation. He also included nice pictures - a bunny, a bowl of fruit and a happy child. These 6 pictures were part of roughly 30 slides that were shown to 46 midwesterners who identified themselves as having strong political beliefs. These people were attached to a machine that measured their reaction to the images by detecting perspiration.
In a nutshell, "Conservatives", or individuals who opposed things like immigration, abortion, and gun control and supported things like the war in Iraq and warrentless wiretapping, tended to react strongly to the threatening images. On the other hand, "Liberals" tended to show no significant difference in reaction to the spider on the face and the bunny. This suggests that conservatives are hardwired to be especially alert to perceived threat. It may also do a great deal to explain how the two political ideologies have evolved the way they have, with conservatives adopting a more big-government, paternal stance in recent decades.
While this is closely related to the Free Will thread, I thought it deserved its own space (seeing as how that thread got all weird and religious). I believe this research serves well in illustrating that even associations primarily attributed to free will are subject to biological motivations - that even the way we rationalize is driven by genetics.You often hear that the right is great at "mobilizing their base." Could this be because the right is more sensitive to threats?
I think that's one conclusion. It may also explain why it's self-apparent to people who hold [what are now right-wing positions] that they're really important, and frustrating why it isn't obvious to the other side. It's like, "What part of the difference between a spider and a bunny don't you understand."