- Sep 10, 2005
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
Was wandering around online and found an interesting opinion article about biases.
Don't really have anything poignant to say about it, just thought it aptly described what people can be like when they're talking about politics. I guess I know what my brain is doing whenever I decide to skim past one of ptsdkid's posts.This commentary was written by CBSNews.com's Dick Meyer. said:...
At Emory University, psychologist Drew Westen and his team conducted what they believe is the first study of "the neural basis of any form of political decision making." They did this by using brain imaging to study people as they processed political information during the 2004 campaign.
To rape and pillage fine science with rough paraphrasing, this is what they discovered: When 30 self-described partisans were presented with contradictory quotes about the candidates (President Bush supporting, then denouncing Ken Lay; Sen. John Kerry supporting, then denouncing a Social Security overhaul), it was the portions of the brain that process emotion, not rational thinking, that became active. "The thinking caps went off and the feeling caps went on," is how Westen put it to me.
Normally, Westen says, a brain faced with contradictory information will fire up the zones where reason or rational thought happens. The 30 partisans in this study were presented with contradictory quotes from Bush and Kerry, but also from Hank Aaron, Tom Hanks and the writer William Styron. They processed the information about the non-politicians with the reasoning centers of the brain. It was politics that short-circuited them. ("This is your brain; this is your brain on politics.")
It would be reasonable to ask whether all brains — not just partisan ones — respond to political information emotionally. Westen says the answer is clearly no, that research does demonstrate that centrists or independents are more able to process rational and non-emotional political information.
But Westen's MRIs show that is clearly not the case with political contradictions processed by a partisan brain. That process is almost entirely emotional, heating up regions of the brain that govern things like forgiveness, relief and pleasure. The reasoning zones stayed ice cold.