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Science Government Politics

Political Viewpoints Linked To Fear 800

Pentagram writes "Researchers writing in Science report that the political orientation of test subjects who have strong views is linked to how easy they are to startle. They found that subjects who were more fearful were more likely to have right wing views, such as being in favor of capital punishment and higher defense budgets. The researchers suggest that this psychological difference is why it is so difficult to change people's minds in political arguments."
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Political Viewpoints Linked To Fear

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  • by Aphoxema ( 1088507 ) * on Friday September 19, 2008 @05:19PM (#25078141) Homepage Journal

    They're not useless, they're just not reliable. They're important enough to warrant a larger study and find the real answer.

  • by MECC ( 8478 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @05:34PM (#25078453)
    More accurately, easily frightened people tend to become republicans. That doesn't mean republicans are cowards. No scientist said that - honest.
  • Re:NPR has the scoop (Score:4, Informative)

    by log0n ( 18224 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @05:38PM (#25078537)

    I vote out of anger (of what 'the other side' will do or has done) rather than out of fear.

  • Re:NPR has the scoop (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19, 2008 @05:52PM (#25078791)

    Whereas if your a rich republican, you're afraid they will take some of your money to help care for poor children?? Oh the horror!!

    Too bad republicans are known to give more to charity than democrats.

    Damn those pesky facts...

  • Re:NPR has the scoop (Score:3, Informative)

    by skam240 ( 789197 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @05:55PM (#25078841)

    Now I'm not saying your wrong but I've never heard that statistic before. Back up your claim please.

  • by nomadic ( 141991 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .dlrowcidamon.> on Friday September 19, 2008 @06:13PM (#25079077) Homepage
    I don't think acting out of a perceived need of self preservation is how I would define cowardice.

    Actually I think that's the definition of cowardice.
  • by adisakp ( 705706 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @06:14PM (#25079097) Journal

    Republicans are cowards.

    Not necessarily. However, they are willing to give up freedoms for security and social stability is more important protections of minorities.

    TED had a very good talk about psychology of left vs. right [] without necessarily putting down one or the other.

    Basically, what they found out was that Liberals have two main axes of morality: Harm and Fairness.

    Conservatives have five: Harm, Fairness, In-Group, Authority, Purity.

  • Re:NPR has the scoop (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19, 2008 @06:31PM (#25079357)

    Yes, but not all charities are equal. Giving to your own church (which accounts for almost all of the difference between conservative and liberal donations) hardly seems the same as donating to a third-world relief fund. In the former case, you're donating to yourself effectively (much of the money goes to pay for your church activities after all), in the latter case you're really giving the money away and in a redistributive way.

    (That's just the tip of the iceberg for criticisms of Brooks's work, incidentally. The study just examined self-reported donating surveys, which are prone to all kinds of problems. This doesn't mean it's wrong, but you should may wish to be careful what you call a "fact" in this case.)

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @07:12PM (#25079853)

    Good example. The problem with many "liberals" is that they have a silly, rosy view of people and the world, and think there's nothing to be afraid of with people who are "different", even if their religion tells them they need to kill you. They say we don't need guns to protect ourselves, when there's people suffering from violent home invasions all around us in our cities.

    But then the problem with Republicans (Republican politicians at least) is that they tell us these people who want to kill us are located in a country which hasn't done anything to us, and was not involved in any terrorist activities (except for some fabricated evidence), and that we need to mount a huge, expensive war there to keep them from somehow coming over here and killing us all with WMDs which don't exist, and that it's ok that their buddies running some large companies get giant, no-bid contracts to help rebuild at our expense. The people voting for these politicians happily and gullibly believe these lies, and then wonder why our economy is in the toilet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19, 2008 @07:35PM (#25080151)

    As Dr. G astutely pointed out today, an increased startle response for conservative types (as opposed to liberal types) in the lab may be misleading. Some conservatives are inherently mistrustful of science, psychologists, academia, etc. and may well have been uneasy or uncomfortable while hooked up to some arcane machinery in an academic lab inhabited by those they didn't trust. Imagine what the liberals' startle response might be if the tests were conducted in a different manner - e.g. by soldiers, and within the confines of a military base.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 19, 2008 @08:00PM (#25080425)

    And historically... I wonder who has a higher body count, government goons or mere muggers.

    Wonder not, it must surely be the government goons. Can we even count how many people were killed under Stalin, to say nothing of certain fascists and a little thing called war?

  • by Obyron ( 615547 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @09:18PM (#25081137)
    A very easy example: An easily frightened solider is walking in the woods. He hears something and is frightened, and immediately flinches. A bullet flies over his head, and he turns and returns fire, killing the enemey. A few miles away, another solider is walking. He is not easily frightened or startled. He hears something, and calmly turns his head in the direction of the sound. The bullet goes straight through his face, killing him.

    Not counting a couple of exceptions, bullets tend to travel faster than the speed of sound. By the time your soldier had anything to hear, he would already be dead. This is why people say, "You never hear the one that gets you."
  • Re:gun control (Score:3, Informative)

    by rhakka ( 224319 ) on Friday September 19, 2008 @10:07PM (#25081441)


    the study doesn't mention democratic or republican platforms at all.

    they simply note that people who claim to have strong opinions toward right wing viewpoints and left wing viewpoints also tend to sort by this startle reflex.

    To address your point, the republicans wouldn't succeed in pandering to christians if they didn't have more in common with other right wingers than the opposition did. that "mjore in common" is generally social conservativism, which is the kind of view this study is talking about.

    note that's viewpoints its talking about, not parties.

  • by easyTree ( 1042254 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @06:38AM (#25083727)

    Good old politics - the attempt to fit all beliefs, opinions, wants and needs for everyone in a society into three data points on a single axis; left, right or centre. lol.

    No doubt once this problem has been solved, we will all be happy bunnies.

  • by OldManAndTheC++ ( 723450 ) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @03:56PM (#25087061)

    According to TFA, the questions did not identify party affiliation, but rather social attitudes. For example:

    Subjects who had expressed a high level of support for policies "protecting the social unit" showed a much larger change in skin conductance in response to alarming photos than those who didn't support such policies.

    They then went on to suggest that the "fearful" reactions aligned with what we regard as "conservative" social attitudes.

    Even the authors don't conclude that this means Republicans are more fearful than Democrats, only that the study suggests a genetic predisposition to a political viewpoint.

    These parties would happily change their platforms if it netted them more votes

    True. An excellent example is the attitude of the two parties toward civil rights, which were originally championed by the Republican party and opposed by the Democrats during the Civil War and Reconstruction; by the 1960's the Dems made civil rights a central part of their platform, and Republicans took the opposite tack to win white votes in southern states, by supporting "states rights".

  • by Descalzo ( 898339 ) on Sunday September 21, 2008 @01:11PM (#25094145) Journal
    Check it out. The column []

    "In what respect" means "In what respect," not "What are you talking about" anyway.

    You're probably right about trying to convince each other about the levels of experience of Obama vs. Palin, though.

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal