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Ear to the Ground

Can This Machine Tell If You’re Liberal or Conservative by Looking Into Your Eyes?

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Posted on Apr 5, 2014

sarcaser (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


Political scientist John Hibbing and his colleagues at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are trying to figure out which political parties people tend toward based on physiological data. Using a machine that track gazes, for example, researchers were able to discover a number of biological responses that revealed whether a subject was on the political left or right, and determined that each “may simply experience the world differently.”

Mother Jones:

...the idea seems to be that our physiology, who we are in our bodies, may lead us to experience the world in such a way that basic preferences about how to run society emerge naturally from more basic dispositions and habits of perception. So, if you have a negativity bias, and you focus more on the aversive and disgusting, then the world seems more threatening to you. And thus, policies like supporting a stronger military, or being tougher on immigration, might feel very natural.

And when you combine Hibbing’s research on the physiology of ideology with waves of other studies showing that liberals and conservatives appear to differ when it comes to genetics, hormones, moral emotions, personalities, and even brain structures, the case for politics being tied to biology seems pretty strong indeed.

So how do we then live with the other side—with those who disagree with us, for reasons over which they may not have full control?

Read more

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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