I was analyzing common patterns in years worth of debates between individuals who proclaimed to be liberals and those who proclaimed to be conservatives. I noticed that many of the debates came down to a common difference in principles and motivations - primarily those who were self-preserving, self-orientated, self-serving (i.e., survival of self) and then those who were collectivist, community-orientated, species/planet-serving (i.e., survival of species, life, planet). I have noticed, from personal experience, that many self-proclaimed conservatives did not seem to grasp or readily notice contradictions in their beliefs, and tended to be quite self-preserving and fear-conditioned. This is not a critique or hard-line generalization, just a personal observation. I have simply found it very confusing (and frankly, frustrating) at times that, what to me seems to be an easy task of recognizing and properly analyzing/categorizing contradicting information, appeared to be quite difficult for some individuals.
Examples: Being gay is wrong. Why? This scripture in the Bible. But that same Book also says women suck, not to eat pork, not to shave your temples, not to get tattoos…need I go on? I fail to see the problem. Where is the contradiction?
We need to be good Christians and follow Christ’s teachings. November: I love charity. I volunteered with my church at the local soup kitchen for Thanksgiving! March: Ugh, get away you dirty, lazy hobo, get a job and stop asking for handouts. Abortion is terrible and wrong! Ugh, I’m not paying more taxes to help support poor people who won’t stop having children! Etc. etc. After beating a dead horse enough on these topics, you start to realize…many people truly, and sincerely, fail to see the problem or the contradiction, even when presented with seemingly clear evidence of it.
Likewise, there are many people who plainly see the frustrating contradictions laid out above. That doesn’t make you a better person, but perhaps simply better at sorting and making sense of contradictions. So I looked to science to see if there were brain differences between “liberals” and “conservatives”. At least one study tackles this question:
The differences between liberals and conservatives run wide and deep, and a new study suggests they may even be reflected in the very structure of their brains.
In the study, led by Ryota Kanai of the University College London, people who identified themselves as liberals generally had a larger anterior cingulate cortex — a comma-shaped region near the front of the brain that is involved in decision-making. By contrast, those who identified as conservatives had larger amygdalas — almond-shaped structures that are linked with emotional learning and the processing of fear. (More on TIME.com: In Politics, It’s Survival of the Fittest, Literally)