Are liberals really more "evolved" than conservatives? Scientific study suggests answer is yes.

I think this study speaks for itself. I’m sorry to say, it doesn’t look to flattering for conservatives. Cognitive neuroscience seems to be showing us that conservatives are less empathetic, less rational, less likely to correct errors in their thinking, more likely to gather around like minded people and shut out conflicting opinions, and more prone to fear than liberals. Will the day come when we recognize conservatism as a personality disorder that should be treated? :eek:

“More evolved” is a nonsense phrase. Evolution is about context, and not something that can be said to be better in and of itself. Decidedly unscientific is certainly the right point to make.

I don’t have time to plunge into the neuroscience right now but I will point out that people have been suckered by past phony studies purporting to prove the superiority of liberals.

I am not sure what you are arguing. I can’t take the last sentence seriously and the “more evolved” part of your title implies a value judgment more than anything else.

The correlative evidence does not address evolutionary adaptation because it is unclear if conservative thought leads the amygdala or the amygdala precedes conservative thought. Additionally, if the amygdala precedes conservative thought patterns then is there any genetic basis? Lots of unanswered questions.

If I should take this article seriously, then I have to ask: Would I want a nation with people who are all rational and take tons of time to make a decision or would I want a nation that is ready to kill at a moment’s notice? I think I will take a mix.

My conclusion is that conservatives have well-adapted minds and people like me would be slaves to some dictator if we didn’t have them.

Liberals are, at most, “better evolved” to be liberals (and conservatives to be conservative). “Better adapted” would be a clearer way of putting it though. Like Revenant Threshold said, you need to consider the context; a creature can’t just be “more evolved” in a generic sense, since evolution doesn’t have a deliberate direction. It can only be “better evolved” for something, like a mole being better adapted for underground living than an elephant.

Did the study break down any differences in structure and function among various parts of, for example, the amygdala, to look at whether supposed differences between liberals and conservatives reflected positive or negative traits (assuming value judgments could always be placed on them)? Not everything about the amygdala screams “bad brain part”:

“The amygdalae also are involved in the modulation of memory consolidation. Following any learning event, the long-term memory for the event is not instantaneously formed. Rather, information regarding the event is slowly assimilated into long-term storage over time (the duration of long-term memory storage can be life-long), a process referred to as memory consolidation, until it reaches a relatively permanent state…Buddhist monks who do compassion meditation have been shown to modulate their amygdala, along with their temporoparietal junction and insula, during their practice.”

Who knows, maybe we should conclude on the basis of this small study that conservatives with larger amygdalas have better memories and greater capacity for compassion than liberals. :dubious:

What has any of that to do with being more or less “evolved”?

Holy Crap!

A study done using *an amazing 92 people * found, well, something that (some) liberals are going to use to justify their self-perceived moral superiority.

We could, looking at the another study, state that liberals hold their positions due, not to deep and careful thought about issues, but because they just like to be contrary.


Therefore liberals are all, emotionally and intellectually, basically teen aged boys who hold opinions just to piss off their parents.


Or, you know, some real studies:

Rather like the studies that found that those who listened to O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh were better informed about political events than those who listened to NPR - ergo, listening to NPR makes you stupid and ill-informed, whereas listening to Rush is informative. There was a study of Obama voters vs. McCain voters showing that Obama voters were much more likely to believe falsehoods.

Another issue with the study about salience is that, of the allegedly “provably false” assertions they tested, only the one about stem cells is actually really false. There were (some) WMDs found in Iraq after the invasion (mustard gas shells, sarin, etc.) and tax revenues rose after the Bush tax cuts (and the end of the recession caused by 9.11 and the popping of the dot-com bubble).

Oddly enough, despite the alleged problems conservatives have being corrected, on these boards it is the liberals who assert even more strongly that there were no WMDs in Iraq, even though they have been corrected.


This is a perfect example. Shodan declares that WMDs were found. But what actually was found was a decades old ammo dump that contained decayed shells. It appeared to be nothing more than an oversight that wasn’t cleaned up when the rest were.

Shodan knows this. But he’s willing, adamant actually, about pretending that WMDs were found. Either he’s willfully saying things that are not true, or he’s unable to understand nuance. He might literally have the inability to understand that finding mouldering, unusable shells forgotten in the desert isn’t what the Bush administration were claiming. And with certainty aren’t evidence that Sadam had a WMD program.

Some people want simple answers. But reality isn’t simple.

I think this is what the study was talking about. That study purported to find it in conservatives - on the SDMB it happens with liberals.


I leave it to the peanut gallery to decide which of us is irrationally ideological. :smiley:

While this is essentially true - it is also essentially true that one can measure divergence from an earlier source. For example, if one were to put Australopithecus in line with Neanderthal and Cro Magnon, one would say that Cro Magnon was “more evolved” than Neanderthal, in relation to Australopithecus.

So, the ratio of Amygdala to total brain mass could be measured against earlier sources to support a statement of “more” or “less” evolved (divergent).

Cites for these studies, please, so that they may be compared to the OP’s.

That’s right. Just because Conservatives grunt more and Liberals think more doesn’t mean that Liberals are more evolved-it just means that Conservatives are differently evolved.

This is really the best answer to the OP.

Let’s play dueling cites to flush out the details here. Which events are they better informed about about? I can’t comment on that study unless I know more.

Here’s a study showing that Fox News viewers were more likely to believe Saddam Hussein had links with Al Qaeda.

Fox News viewers are misinformed about Climate Change:

Lol, even i’m offput by the bias. This reminds me of the post about 80%+ of psychologists being liberal.

Evenso, we are an amygdala world. Getting people enraged and bitter works better than making rational arguments about complex policy. And there are people on the left who try to get people enraged, the whole Bush period was one outrage after another.

From a stereotypical viewpoint, I can agree with the concept. Here is another interesting video on the subject.

Haidt claims 5 moral factors are in play, and conservatives place more value on tradition and authority than liberals, with the other values being mostly equal

If you want to go on this path, having higher IQ would seem to describe “more evolved” much better than having large amygdala or large anterior cingulate cortex, right? We know that having higher IQ is correlated with having higher income. Therefore, if you are willing to say that this study means anything about being “more evolved,” you must also be willing to say that people with high incomes are more evolved than people with low incomes. The same argument could be made about some races being “more evolved” than others.