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Posted: 1/24/2006 2:15:11 PM EDT
www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11009379/

Political bias affects brain activity, study finds

Democrats and Republicans both adept at ignoring facts, brain scans show
Subjects were asked to evaluate statements by President George W. Bush and Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry, seen here after a debate on Oct. 8, 2004. Both Republicans and Democrats ignored information that could not rationally be discounted, the study found.
Jim Bourg / Reuters file


Updated: 4:25 p.m. ET Jan. 24, 2006
Democrats and Republicans alike are adept at making decisions without letting the facts get in the way, a new study shows.

And they get quite a rush from ignoring information that's contrary to their point of view.

Researchers asked staunch party members from both sides to evaluate information that threatened their preferred candidate prior to the 2004 Presidential election. The subjects' brains were monitored while they pondered.

The results were announced today.

"We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning," said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. "What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts."

Bias on both sides
The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, Westen and his colleagues say.

Then, with their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix, Westen explained.

The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.

"None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged," Westen said. "Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones."

Notably absent were any increases in activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most associated with reasoning.

The tests involved pairs of statements by the candidates, President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry, that clearly contradicted each other. The test subjects were asked to consider and rate the discrepancy. Then they were presented with another statement that might explain away the contradiction. The scenario was repeated several times for each candidate.

The brain imaging revealed a consistent pattern. Both Republicans and Democrats consistently denied obvious contradictions for their own candidate but detected contradictions in the opposing candidate.

"The result is that partisan beliefs are calcified, and the person can learn very little from new data," Westen said.

Other relatively neutral candidates were introduced into the mix, such as the actor Tom Hanks. Importantly, both the Democrats and Republicans reacted to the contradictions of these characters in the same manner.

The findings could prove useful beyond the campaign trail.

"Everyone from executives and judges to scientists and politicians may reason to emotionally biased judgments when they have a vested interest in how to interpret 'the facts,'" Westen said.

The researchers will present the findings Saturday at the Annual Conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

Link Posted: 1/24/2006 2:18:28 PM EDT
Hence why both parties suck.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 2:27:36 PM EDT
I don't believe these results

Seriously what kind of tests and "studies have proven" crap are we talking about. Many many groups present false or misleading data. If you said the AWB sunset made it easier for criminals to get evil guns I'd say you were wrong. I would be ignoring the facts, because the fact is the AWB is gone.

You see how they can manipulate things.

Yes you are technically right but you have not proven the link between the legal process law abiding citizens go through and the ease of black market weapons purchases....
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 3:14:00 PM EDT
Another example of spectacular reporting. They don't even name the authors of the studies. And, generally speaking, if your results are any good you publish them, you don't just present 'em at a conference.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 3:17:01 PM EDT
What party do you vote for Wolfman??
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 3:27:35 PM EDT
I think this is the classic case of either cup is half-full or half-empty.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 3:41:25 PM EDT

Originally Posted By AR4U:
Another example of spectacular reporting. They don't even name the authors of the studies. And, generally speaking, if your results are any good you publish them, you don't just present 'em at a conference.



Um - the article repeatedly mentions Westen, who presumably is the lead author on the study. (You can probably figure out the other authors by going to Emory's Laboratory of Personality and Psychopathology and looking for the study in their publications or ongoing projects links)

And, FWIW, pretty much all of my published papers were presented at conferences at some point before they were published - which is very common, considering the time it can take for a manuscript to make it through the review process, and the backlog of some academic journals. But - I personally agree with you, in that I'd prefer a study to have completed the process of peer review before it is widely disseminated or cited.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 3:45:35 PM EDT
Republicans are never wrong, this study is bullshit.

Link Posted: 1/24/2006 4:02:11 PM EDT
It's the "My Team right or wrong" syndrome. BFD... It's alwasy us Individualists that get screwed no matter who is in power. Hard to tell the difference any more...
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 4:06:35 PM EDT

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:
What party do you vote for Wolfman??



I don't vote by party lines, thanks. I make individual decisions.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 4:16:21 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 4:19:43 PM EDT

Originally Posted By thebeekeeper1:

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:
What party do you vote for Wolfman??



I don't vote by party lines, thanks. I make individual decisions.



Hey! Me too. Most of the time I'm stuck with Republicans, as I'm very conservative. You?

Several years ago I had a number of signs in my yard for various Republican candidates--and one larger one which read "Republican for Poshard." He was the much more conservative candidate for Governor here in Illinois. He lost--and we got HUGE tax ("fee") increases, and rampant spending. The Illinois government probably doubled in size during his two year term (we have at least a couple new prisons fully built that are sitting empty, thanks to him). The only good news is the prosecution is expected to rest their case against him tomorrow. I hope that decrepit crook POS goes to prison for several years--he's in his 70s, so hopefully he will die with Bubba at his side.



I do a lot of "none of the above." I tend to prefer amateurs who tell the truth over professional politicians.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 4:22:12 PM EDT

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

I do a lot of "none of the above." I tend to prefer amateurs who tell the truth over professional politicians.



Heh - if I voted, I'd probably do the same.

I'd rather throw it away on a third-party or independent candidate of my choice, than give a vote to a total weasel who expects it, simply because he's not "as bad" as the other guy.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 4:24:45 PM EDT

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:
What party do you vote for Wolfman??



I don't vote by party lines, thanks. I make individual decisions.



So, you're a moderate? Which means you have no absolutes and no values? Or you have better values than the 3 party system.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 4:30:06 PM EDT

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:
What party do you vote for Wolfman??



I don't vote by party lines, thanks. I make individual decisions.



So, you're a moderate? Which means you have no absolutes and no values? Or you have better values than the 3 party system.




I will have to go with "none of the above" again.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:36:28 PM EDT
What mindless meaningless claptrap.

Gee what surprise political junkies have their minds made up. It is not bias it is called having made a decision.

Who the hell would find this surprising?

Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:39:48 PM EDT

Liberal Brokeback Mountain buttboy
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:43:50 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:47:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:
What party do you vote for Wolfman??



I don't vote by party lines, thanks. I make individual decisions.



So, you're a moderate? Which means you have no absolutes and no values? Or you have better values than the 3 party system.



NG, you don't understand moderates, apparently. I would characterize myself a moderate. To put it very simply, I agree in matters of foreign policy with the Neo-Cons, in matters of social permissiveness I most closely resemble Libertarians, except on the drug issue, and on matters involving finance I am most like the Republicans.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:50:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:
What party do you vote for Wolfman??



I don't vote by party lines, thanks. I make individual decisions.



So, you're a moderate? Which means you have no absolutes and no values? Or you have better values than the 3 party system.



NG, you don't understand moderates, apparently. I would characterize myself a moderate. To put it very simply, I agree in matters of foreign policy with the Neo-Cons, in matters of social permissiveness I most closely resemble Libertarians, except on the drug issue, and on matters involving finance I am most like the Republicans.

That would be a true conservative, or conservative with libertarian leanings. Far from moderate.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:52:24 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 1GunnerHogan1:

Liberal Brokeback Mountain buttboy



I am glad to see a shining example of how they are completely wrong.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:55:34 PM EDT

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By 1GunnerHogan1:

Liberal Brokeback Mountain buttboy



I am glad to see a shining example of how they are completely wrong.



So...none of the above? Who did you vote for in the last Presidential race? Just curious..since you have no party leaning.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:56:56 PM EDT

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By 1GunnerHogan1:

Liberal Brokeback Mountain buttboy



I am glad to see a shining example of how they are completely wrong.



So...none of the above? Who did you vote for in the last Presidential race? Just curious..since you have no party leaning.



You know who he voted for...
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:57:25 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By 1GunnerHogan1:

Liberal Brokeback Mountain buttboy



I am glad to see a shining example of how they are completely wrong.



So...none of the above? Who did you vote for in the last Presidential race? Just curious..since you have no party leaning.



You know who he voted for...

yup
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 5:57:41 PM EDT

Originally Posted By -Absolut-:

Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:
What party do you vote for Wolfman??



I don't vote by party lines, thanks. I make individual decisions.



So, you're a moderate? Which means you have no absolutes and no values? Or you have better values than the 3 party system.



NG, you don't understand moderates, apparently. I would characterize myself a moderate. To put it very simply, I agree in matters of foreign policy with the Neo-Cons, in matters of social permissiveness I most closely resemble Libertarians, except on the drug issue, and on matters involving finance I am most like the Republicans.

That would be a true conservative, or conservative with libertarian leanings. Far from moderate.



Yes, but try explaining that to the average person! If you say conservative they think republican and can't be dissuaded from that. Personally, I don't like to identify with a party.

I remember back in 101 when the teacher told us that we were all "Classical Liberals." That went over like a whore in church.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 6:00:15 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By 1GunnerHogan1:

Liberal Brokeback Mountain buttboy



I am glad to see a shining example of how they are completely wrong.



So...none of the above? Who did you vote for in the last Presidential race? Just curious..since you have no party leaning.



You know who he voted for...



Shhhhhhh....ya'll know I'm milsurping?
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 6:33:51 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/24/2006 6:36:08 PM EDT by wolfman97]

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:

Originally Posted By NAKED-GUNMAN:

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By 1GunnerHogan1:

Liberal Brokeback Mountain buttboy



I am glad to see a shining example of how they are completely wrong.



So...none of the above? Who did you vote for in the last Presidential race? Just curious..since you have no party leaning.



You know who he voted for...



Shhhhhhh....ya'll know I'm milsurping?



You guys are a veritable garden of stupid and thoroughly erroneous assumptions.

ETA: But thanks to all of you for proving the basic point of the research. In case any of you missed it, it mentions both Republicans and Democrats, and I never expressed an opinion on the truth of the research either way. But you guys sure make a convincing case that it is correct.
Link Posted: 1/24/2006 6:43:08 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:
and on matters involving finance I am most like the Republicans.



What is the Republicans' stance on matters involving finance?

Seems to me, if you choose between Democrats and Republicans you're just choosing which welfare cases to send your tax money to:

Republicans: farmers, military suppliers, old folks on prescription drugs (the old folks used to belong to the democrats), pharmaceutical companies, etc.

Democrats: poor blacks, single mothers, college kids, union members, teachers, government employees

Lately what the Republicans have been doing is buying off traditional democrats with our tax money, like when they passed steel tarrifs, threw a bunch of money at New Orleans, prescription drug benefits and so on.
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