Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Holy Crap! Conservatives Don't Like Crap!

Clint having a conservative moment.

I sort of knew this before I read this article, but during this relatively repulsive Republican primary season it bears repeating:
In a 2008 study in the journal “Cognition and Emotion,” researchers at Cornell and Yale asked 181 adults from across the political spectrum about their views on a range of matters. Participants were asked to rate their agreement to statements like “I try to avoid letting any part of my body touch the toilet seat in a public restroom, even when it appears clean” and to indicate how disgusting they found situations like “You take a sip of soda and then realize that you picked up the wrong can, which a stranger had been drinking out of.”
Across most metrics — including partisan affiliation — there were no noticeable differences among demographic groups in their response to these statements and questions.
But this wasn’t true of all groups. Conservatives showed a statistically significant likelihood of reacting negatively to “disgusting” situations. (So did religious groups, but the researchers determined the finding about conservatives remained true even when controlling for religiousity [sic].)
Atrios actually singlehandedly cured me of my homophobia by his constant calling out people for thinking of sex as icky. (Sex is icky, but so is ice cream.) He was right, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that homosexual sex disgusted me, except, of course, lesbian sex, for some reason. (Okay, I know the reason.) Once I came to terms with the notion that sex was sex and who's with who is none of my business, things changed. Then I came to the next obvious conclusion that sex is sex and love is love, and it was still none of my business when I wasn't involved.

And that, my friends, was liberating. One inconvenient -- for a liberal -- kind of discrimination was removed from my portfolio. Lucky me.

Once you get the hang of this I'm-OK-you're-Ok thing, life mellows out (Eric Berne must have been a liberal). But the conservative frame on many things, often, is I'm OK, you're not OK.
In a paper published in 2014 in Current Biology, researchers at the Human Neuroimaging Laboratory and the Computational Psychiatry Unit at Virginia Tech showed 83 subjects “disgusting” pictures of dead animal bodies, dirty toilets, as well as pleasant images such as pretty landscapes and babies playing together. The participants took a standard test to evaluate their political leanings.
Consciously, liberal, moderate and conservative participants showed no significant differences in rating these pictures, although conservatives “had marginally higher disgust sensitivity than the liberal group.” But things changed when the subject had their brains scanned using fMRI machines as they saw the images.
With a more than 90 percent success rate, the researchers were able to predict whether the participants were conservative or liberals based on how regions of their brains lit up while viewing the images. And it turned out that conservatives had a much stronger reaction to disgusting images than liberals. Reactions to other types of images were not predicted by political views.
Is this why conservatives end up conservative? Is this why
 I could go on and explore more dualities, but you get the point. The bottom line is that you can tell a conservative by how they react to the icky. One thing that's seems true, according to the MRI study, is that they were born that way. Who knew?

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