August 29, 2012; Source:           

Some might not realize it, but NPQ’s newswire and feature writers reflect a mix of political perspectives from liberal to conservative, though some expert theorists might conclude from a textual analysis that some of us have both liberal and conservative strands to our thinking. But what does it mean to be conservative or liberal? The nonprofit, which aims to “provide resources for critical thinking…by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, primarily pro-con format,” recently provided a summary of 13 peer-reviewed scientific studies explaining the differences between conservative and liberal brains. Here is a sampling of some of the differences highlighted by, with some commentary from us:

Conservatives spend more time looking at unpleasant images, and liberals spend more time looking at pleasant images. Oh, that can’t be true. Liberals spend tons of time looking at “The Scream” by Edvard Munch and Francis Bacon’s unbelievably scary “Head” paintings.

Reliance on quick, efficient, and “low effort” thought processes yields conservative ideologies, while effortful and deliberate reasoning yields liberal ideologies. That may be. Just think about the conservative argument to simply eliminate the “death tax” compared to complex liberal formulations for a revised estate tax.

Liberals have more tolerance to uncertainty (bigger anterior cingulate cortex), and conservatives have more sensitivity to fear (bigger right amygdala). If the point is that conservatives want more certainty in their lives, that wasn’t evident in the Republican primaries, in which insta-candidates emerged at every turn to thwart the certainty that would have happened had they all accepted the inevitability of Mitt Romney’s nomination.

Conservatives have stronger motivations than liberals to preserve purity and cleanliness. Hmmm, ou