Brain don’t lie: progressives less tolerant


A fascinating new study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln:

In a new study, University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers found that self-identified liberals were more likely to notice when candidates deviated from the party line. Liberals also tended to take longer to react to inconsistent positions from Democrats. And in the majority of instances, they evaluated those inconsistent positions as “bad.”


The study used a powerful functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine at the university’s Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior to observe what happens inside the brain when people are faced with “incongruent” policy positions from their party’s candidates. The researchers used the scanner to see if certain areas of the brain activate when people evaluate candidates’ stances on a range of issues.


Participants were asked to review made-up candidates’ positions on dozens of issues, then decide within milliseconds whether those positions were “good” or “bad.”


“We found that liberal and conservative participants processed the information differently and that liberals were more likely to penalize candidates who expressed incongruent positions,” said lead researcher Ingrid Haas, a political psychologist at Nebraska.

As the oft-quoted saying goes, the right thinks the left is wrong, the left thinks the right is evil. If you deem certain policies and beliefs to be not merely misguided but downright diabolical, you will of course judge more harshly those who deviate from the correct positions and flirt with the opposition. As previously reported, this coincidentally also extends to literal flirting.

The UN-L report continues:

The findings have implications for the causes of political gridlock, she said. It may not be true that polarization comes only from the top, with politically polarized elites alienating constituents by refusing to compromise. The study hints that polarization may also emerge at the grassroots level.


Despite conservatives’ reputation for being less tolerant of ambiguity, the findings suggest liberals are more likely to scrutinize inconsistency…

Disclaimer: this study does not apply to my numerous left-of-centre friends who continue to love me despite my evil thoughts and writings.