The political brain

According to this article from Psychology Today,
we tend to believe our political views have evolved by a process of rational thought, as we consider arguments, weigh evidence, and draw conclusions. But the truth is more complicated.
The article goes on to argue that beneath political inclinations there aren't simply differences in values and ethical codes, but actual personality and character differences, which seem to be determined, to a vary large extent, on certain emotions, the most prevalent of which seems to be fear, which is directly proportional, apparently in a causal way, to political conservatism: the greater the fear, the greater the amount of conservatism, and vice versa for liberalism.

Nothing new so far. The interesting thing that comes out of it is the details of these differences. Check these out:
  • Liberals are messier than conservatives, their rooms have more clutter and more color, and they tend to have more travel documents, maps of other countries, and flags from around the world.
  • Conservatives are neater, and their rooms are cleaner, better organized, more brightly lit, and more conventional.
  • Liberals have more books, and their books cover a greater variety of topics.
  • Liberals are more optimistic.
  • Conservatives are more likely to be religious.
  • Liberals are more likely to like classical music and jazz, conservatives, country music.
  • Liberal men like romantic comedies more than conservative men.
  • Liberal women are more likely than conservative women to enjoy books, poetry, writing in a diary, acting, and playing musical instruments.
  • Conservatives have a greater desire to reach a decision quickly and stick to it, and are higher on conscientiousness, which includes neatness, orderliness, duty, and rule-following.
  • Liberals are higher on openness, which includes intellectual curiosity, excitement-seeking, novelty, creativity for its own sake, and a craving for stimulation like travel, color, art, music, and literature.
  • Conservatives have less tolerance for ambiguity.
  • Those who think the world is highly dangerous and those with the greatest fear of death are the most likely to be conservative.
  • People who study abroad become more liberal than those who stay home.
  • People who venture from the strictures of their limited social class are less likely to stereotype and more likely to embrace other cultures.
  • Professors at major universities are more liberal than their counterparts at less acclaimed institutions.
Many of these differences can be traced back to childhood. In a comprehensive review of 88 studies, which included 22,000 subjects, researchers (including Frank Sulloway, one of my favorites) comparing childhood personality with adult political outlook found that:
  • As kids, liberals had developed close relationships with peers and were rated by their teachers as self-reliant, energetic, impulsive, and resilient.
  • People who were conservative at age 23 had been described by their teachers as easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, and vulnerable at age 3.
The implication is obvious: there is a very good reason why my room is a mess...

Actually, that's not even true. I'm not sure I would characterize myself as a liberal, or as a conservative, but as neither or both. I happen to agree with conservatives that liberals are wusses, and I also agree with liberals that conservatives are idiots. I'm not sure where that puts me... maybe a courageous genius.

As I think about it, it should come as no surprise to me that I can't make up my mind about my political standing (which I guess, according to the article, makes me more of a liberal? that's weird). I can't make up my mind about anything! I am almost the definition of ambivalent... or maybe not... no, yes, I am.

I think there is a reason for this. Most of you are familiar with right and left-brain dominance, and most of you fall in one category or the other. For some strange reason I happen to be "balanced-brain," which is probably why my interests are so weird, random and eclectic, and why my dislikes are equally varied.

Anyway, given the differences quoted above, how accurately do they describe your political standing?
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