Disputes between those holding differing political views are ubiquitous, deep-seated, and often follow common, recognizable lines, with the supporters of tradition and stability, sometimes referred to as conservatives, doing battle with the supporters of innovation and reform, sometimes referred to as liberals. Understanding the correlates of these distinct political orientations is likely a prerequisite for managing political disputes, a source of social conflict often leading to frustration and even bloodshed. A rapidly growing body of empirical evidence documents a multitude of ways in which liberals and conservatives differ from each other in purviews of life with little direct connection to politics, from tastes in art to desire for closure and from disgust sensitivity to the tendency to pursue new information, but the central theme of these differences is a matter of debate. In this article, we argue that one organizing element of the many differences between liberals and conservatives is the nature of their physiological and psychological responses to features of the environment that are negative. Compared to liberals, conservatives tend to register greater physiological responses to such stimuli and also to devote more psychological resources to them. Operating from this point of departure, we suggest future approaches for refining understanding of the broad relationship between political views and response to the negative. We conclude with a discussion of normative implications, stressing that identifying differences across ideological groups is not tantamount to declaring one ideology superior to another.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Negativity bias and political ideology
I've just received a reviewer's copy of an upcoming article in Brain and Behavioral Science in the vein of several MindBlog posts mentioning work on the brains of conservatives versus liberals: "Differences in Negativity Bias Underlie Variations in Political Ideology" by J. R. Hibbing, K.B. Smith, and John R. Alford. I thought MindBlog readers might be interested in their abstract: