As the current political season so amply and constantly reminds us, liberals and conservatives are practically different species. The differences seem fundamental and increasingly irreconciliable.
But where do those differences come from? For instance, have you ever wondered why conservatives are so obstinate and yet so willing to obey authority? Well, according to a recent study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, it springs from very deep-seated sources.
Researchers studied a group of people with strong political convictions, evaluating their threat response by measuring their physiological reaction to two different stimuli: disturbing images and loud bursts of noise. A Time.com article says that the study found that "People with stronger measurable threat responses… tended to adhere to 'socially protective' political policies, or those that suggest more concern for preserving the social unit — for example, supporting the Iraq war and the death penalty, but opposing abortion rights and gay marriage."
The article goes on to note, "The study also looked at several broader political tendencies, including compromise (the willingness to yield to a middle-ground solution) and obedience (the tendency to follow a set path), and found that people who were more sensitive to threat were less amenable to the former and more inclined toward the latter."
That explains everything doesn't it? It explains Fox News and "you're either with us or you're against us" and denying global warming and the blind support for invading Iraq and the perennial conservatism of the military and the unyielding stands on guns and abortion and Bush's governing "from the gut" and the inexplicable enthusiasm for Sarah Palin and a million other crazy right-wing phenomena.
I'd also point people who are interested in this whole thing to a very insightful piece by none other than Deepak Chopra in the Huffington Post. It overlaps fascinatingly with the findings of the University of Nebraska study.
So how do we use this information to win the election?