The fear factor

September 20, 2008

How would you react to a picture of a big spider on someone’s face?

The answer could reveal your political bent.  A new study published in the research journal Science shows a strong link between physiology and political views.  It found that those with conservative views react more strongly to fear. 

Professors from  Rice University in Texas and the University of Nebraska collaborated in the study.  Randomly selected participants first answered a questionnaire about their political views.  Then they were attached to equipment that measured physiological responses.  They were shown three threatening images and three non-threatening images.  Another test measured their involuntary response to startling noise.

The research found: “Political attitudes vary with physiological traits linked to divergent manners of experiencing and processing environmental threats.” 

Translation: People are hard-wired to follow certain political views.



  1. This is very interesting. I am not afraid of insects, to be honest, after working outside so much. I’ve been told, for example, that bees sense or smell fear in people, so I relax around them — and they do leave me alone. (I’m a Democrat.) In my experience, I would have to agree that my conservative friends are more fearful, generally speaking, than liberal friends.

  2. I startle very easily, and as hard as I have tried to change that I haven’t had any luck. My ideas about how to treat people and run the country made me a democrat long before I understood the complexities of political parties. I kid about being blue through and through.

    Thanks for your comment about my parade. The only press I saw about the event was an announcement in the newspaper that the opposing candidate would be there. I asked one of my fellow marchers why the candidate would go to all the trouble to be at such a small-town parade. She said that it was the race where republicans thought they had a chance, so they were making the most of it.

  3. Sharon, I think the researchers found that most people do get startled, but conservatives were observed “sweating more and blinking harder” compared to liberals, according to the article in New Scientist online.

    About the parade, I think it’s wonderful. I think citizen action all over the country has an effect. And by blogging, YOU became the local reporter for the event — even without “official” media coverage.

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