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December 29, 2010

Yet Another Study Finds That Liberals Are Loving and Empathetic and Conservatives Are Fearful Monsters

Lot of that goin' round.

The actual study here is about "gaze following." That is, looking at someone's eyes to see what they're looking at, then looking at whatever they're looking at. The study finds political liberals do this more, conservatives do this less.

Is that right? Who knows, I haven't seen the data. I suspect things like this may very well be right, as liberals may be found to have a stronger socialization/empathy tendency in their biological make-up (mommy traits), and conservatives a stronger threat assessment/response/rule of law sort of tendency (daddy traits). I would not be at all surprised to find some biological difference here (and in fact I'd be surprised to find there were no biological difference at all, that it was all purely a thing of airy intellect with no biological root).

Check out how they like to put their sketchy findings...

"Across a variety of tasks, we are beginning to find a consistent pattern where conservatives are more responsive to threat/disgust, more responsive to angry faces, and less sensitive to gaze cues than liberals," Dodd wrote in an e-mail to LiveScience. "Liberals, on the other hand, are proving to be more responsive to positive/appetitive stimuli, more responsive to happy faces, and more sensitive to gazes."

I can't help but notice that they're casting "conservative" attributes in bad terms, while making "liberal" tendencies sound happywonderful.

By the way, if you read the article, you find that the study itself is sort of wrong-headed. Because they don't test whether people are actually following human gazes, but rather drawings of faces on a computer screen, which seems to be assuming that people react to abstract representations the same way the react to the tangible reality. Which mostly isn't true.

Exit Question: Is liberalism a choice? Can it be "cured"?

More Interesting... than the devolution of human beings into the sub-species called homo liberus is the evolution of dogs, in this National Geographic special.

Interesting fact: Dogs know to follow human gazes and human pointing. Apparently other animals, even domesticated ones like horses and cats, can't do this. They aren't that locked-in on human cues to pick up on what pointing and looking mean. Even chimps don't do this.

At least that's what this video claims. (It should be noted, though, they used a trained dog and an untrained chimp in their pointing-recognition test, substantially weakening any conclusion that could be drawn from it.)

I'm Told... that horses can follow a finger-point. Ah well. I'm just telling you what the Nova documentary claimed. I don't run these tests myself!


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posted by Ace at 01:27 PM

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