02/20/2013

Political ideology predicted by brain scans

NEWS

In today's hyper-political climate, political affiliation can say a lot about a person, ranging from values and religious affiliations to education level and geographic location. Now, researchers from the University of Exeter (UK) have taken a scientific approach to gauge a person's political leaning. By using brain scans, scientists were able to see how the brain processes a situation, and they say the brains of people of different political ideologies react differently.

In the experiment, participants were presented with a gambling game, and the way their brains responded to risk  largely reflected their party affiliations. Though the Republicans and Democrats did not show a difference in how much risk was assumed during the game, different parts of the brain were activated during the game. For those who said they were Republicans, the parts of the brain associated with risk, reward and fear were activated; for the Democrats, it was the parts of the brain dedicated to emotion and internal body cues.

The researchers said they were able to predict the political ideology of the participant in 82.9 percent of situations.