By virtue of our genes, some of us scare more easily than others. And those among us who are more easily frightened tend to resist change ~ because it scares them.
Not surprisingly, a new study at the University of Nebraska shows that the more-easily-frightened among us tend to espouse political positions resistant to change, and therefore are quantifiably more conservative than those who are less easily frightened.
Using a relatively small sampling of 46 people, the controversial study identified the subjects’ physical reactions to perceived threats. It correlated those results against the subjects’ political positions on hot topics such as gun control, immigration policy and foreign aid. The researchers also tested the people’s physical responses to scary images ~ wounds, bloody scenes, spiders on a terrified person’s face ~ and to loud noises.
The subjects who displayed “lower physical sensitivities to sudden noises and threatening visual images were more likely to support foreign aid, liberal immigration policies, pacifism and gun control," the team wrote in its report, published in the journal Science. "Individuals displaying measurably higher physiological reactions to those same stimuli were more likely to favor defense spending, capital punishment, patriotism and the Iraq War."
The study’s critics say its findings run the risk of “pathologizing conservatism.”
Click here for the National Geographic News article.