In What's New, Writing

Ever get the idea that conservatives are looking at you funny?  That’s because they are.  A study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (shout-0ut to my Nebraska folks) suggests that eye movements are different in liberals than in conservatives.

Liberals tend to be much more likely to follow visual cues – to look at something when the person they’re speaking to looks at it, like a passing plane or an angry duck.  (Whatever, you get the picture).  Conservatives, on the other hand, are more likely to keep you locked in a death-gaze.  Why?  Researchers suggest it’s because conservatives “value on personal autonomy makes them much less likely to be influenced by others.”  Either that or they’re creepy as hell.  Read more about the study here.

I kid, I kid!  Republicans aren’t creepy!  Just totally immune to the needs and cues of others.

Okay, jokes aside, it does make you wonder about how much our political tendencies are biologically based.  That same team at the University of Nebraska found that people who reacted more strongly to threatening images are more likely to support defense spending and capital punishment.  So, maybe, how we see the world is not just a function of our environment but a response to our biology.

Recall, for example, that study that got all that play in the media a few years ago, the one that correlated low childhood IQ with conservative (and racist) beliefs later in life.  Click here to read up on it.  Now, I don’t buy the “Republicans are stupid” argument because I happen to be a Republican magnet and I’ve met a lot of smart ones.  But it does make sense that people who have an inherent feeling that the world is unsafe would tend to gravitate toward rhetoric and decisions that make them feel safer, like “tough” national security.  And gun ownership.  And those of us that feel that the world is an inherently good place would tend to think otherwise.

Imagine if all political disagreement could be eradicated by just making sure that our mommies made us all feel safe and warm before age three?  But then, if there is an inherent biological tendency to feel unsafe in some people, would any amount of mommy-niceness help?  Even if there is, how are we going to pay for that kind of safety net?  Seems like that’s a measure Republicans would never go for.  Now we know why.  If everyone felt safe all the time there would be no more Republicans.  And no one to stare at you without blinking.

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