Believe it or not, our biological makeup may factor into who we decide to vote for. Our brains are hard-wired differently based on our perceptions and values, which determine if we skew toward Democratic or Republican views. A study performed by the University of South Carolina reports that there is a strong link with broad social connections with Democrats and a strong link with tight social connections with Republicans.
So, with election day right around the corner this research suggests that who you vote for has a lot more to do with your biological makeup rather than how you analyze current issues of the world.
“The differences are significant and real,” said lead researcher Roger Newman-Norlund, an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science in the Arnold School of Public Health and the Director of USC’s new Brain Stimulation Laboratory. The study conducted by the University of South Carolina reviewed the mirror neuron system, a network linked to a host of social and emotional abilities. Following the declaration of their political affiliations, the control group was given questionnaires designed to gauge each individual’s attitudes on a range of select political issues. Next, they were given “resting state” MRIs, which made it possible to analyze the strength of connections within the mirror neuron system in both the left and right hemispheres of their brains; specifically the inferior frontal gyrus, supramarginal gyrus, and angular gyrus.
The MRI results found that those who were linked to broad social connections, those who focus more on friends and the world at large identified as Democrat and those that showed activity with tight social connections identified as Republicans. Those who associate with the Democratic party tend to be more concerned with global issues and those who skew toward the Republican Party are more focused on the domestic policy.
“The results were a little surprising,” Newman-Norlund said. “This shows the picture is more complicated. One possible explanation for our results is that Democrats and Republicans process social connections in a fundamentally different way.”
Although this study is still in its infancy stage, future political races and campaign strategists may use this knowledge to exploit brain differences to enhance voter appeal.
This study also suggests that maintaining an open mind about political issues may be easier said than done. In fact, bridging partisan divides and acting contrary to ideological preferences likely requires going against deeply ingrained biological tendencies. And, while there is evidence that mirror neuron connections can change over time, it’s not something that “happens overnight”, Newman-Norlund said.
“The (brain) differences could be a result of genetics, experiences, or a combination of both,” he said. “It takes a lot of effort to see the other side and we’re not going to wake up one day and all start getting along.”
Understanding the differences and their origins, however, is a step in the right direction, he said. Using an MRI to determine how someone may vote is cutting edge medicine that may change how elections are conducted for years to come. If you would like to learn more about this study contact Atlanta Orthopedics today at (404) 855-2141.
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