With election season in full swing, it's almost impossible to swing a dead cat without hitting someone embroiled in a political discussion. Therefore, it's of no surprise that research articles following in the same vein would be popping up.
A new article by a research group from Rice University wanted to determine whether physiological responses to various stimuli could predict political leanings. The hypothesis makes inherent sense: people who are more averse to painful stimuli tend to seek protection from those stimuli, and therefore may find certain policies more attractive.
Participants were shown 33 images and exposed to auditory stimuli while hooked up to physiological measuring equipment. The researchers found a correlation between those who reacted strongly to the experiments with support for policies, such as military spending, warrantless searches, the death penalty, the Patriot Ac, obedience, patriotism, the Iraq War, school prayer and Biblical truth, while opposing pacifism, immigration, gun control, foreign aid, compromise, premarital sex, gay marriage, abortion rights and pornography.
The researchers concludes that, ""Political attitudes vary with physiological traits linked to divergent manners of experiencing and processing environmental threats." This may help to explain "both the lack of malleability in the beliefs of individuals with strong political convictions and the associated ubiquity of political conflict," the authors said.
The paper will appear in the September 19th issue of Science.