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The nature of conservatism and liberalism: A cognitive neuroscience perspective
University of Skövde, School of Bioscience.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 15 credits / 22,5 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In this essay, the author explores the nature of (1) conservatism and (2) liberalism, through a cognitive neuroscience perspective. Traditionally, political behavior and ideological reasoning have been understood in terms of social forces. Recently however, scholars have begun to approach political psychology through a biological perspective, which might add an important insight to the subject. Here, the author presents a collection of findings regarding the psychological and neurocognitive differences between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives appear to have increased activation in the amygdala in response to threat and increased gray matter volume within the right amygdala and left insula. Liberals on the other hand show increased activation in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) when cognitive control is required as well as increased gray matter volume. According to the well-known model of political ideology as motivated social cognition, motivations to reduce uncertainty and threat are positively correlated with conservatism and negatively correlated with liberalism. This model is consistent with the findings which suggest that conservatives recruit the amygdala more in response to threat, while liberals recruit the ACC in response to cognitive control. Since applying cognitive neuroscience to political ideology is in its early stages, the conclusions in this essay should be considered as tentative.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , p. 53
Keywords [en]
conservatism, liberalism, amygdala, ACC, political ideology as motivated social cognition, threat, uncertainty, the chicken and the egg problem
National Category
Neurosciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-18302OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-18302DiVA, id: diva2:1413857
Subject / course
Cognitive Neuroscience
Educational program
Cognitive Neuroscience - Neuropsychology and Consciousness Studies
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2020-03-11 Created: 2020-03-11 Last updated: 2020-03-11Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf