The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Who Needs Gallup When We Have Brain Scans?

Researchers now claim that brain scans can indicate your politics:

A team of political scientists and neuroscientists has shown that liberals and conservatives use different parts of the brain when they make risky decisions, and these regions can be used to predict which political party a person prefers.

Democrats showed significantly greater activity in the left insula, a region associated with social and self-awareness. Meanwhile Republicans showed significantly greater activity in the right amygdala, a region involved in the body’s fight-or-flight system.

Traditionally, the political preference of one’s parents was shown to be 69.5 percent accurate in predicting political affiliation. Brain-mapping, by contrast, is 82.9 percent accurate.

Even so, at Via Meadia we like to think our whole brains are working, and we’re also skeptical when supposed breakthroughs like this are announced. Human beings are pretty complicated, and we’ve known many people who move from one side of the political spectrum to the other over time, or who take the liberal position on some issues and the conservative position on others. Do their brains change shape when their politics do?

Published on February 20, 2013 3:00 pm