I’m so sorry. Especially for the picture. I couldn’t resist – it was impossible! This fine article on the neurological evidence for different thinking styles among conservatives and liberals is extremely careful to couch the evidence and arguments that it presents within a set of reasonable, well-thought-through caveats that anybody, if they read them with due attention, would agree preclude the reader from making snap judgements on a politically partisan basis. You know, things like:

Please keep in mind from the beginning that this is not an endorsement of any one political party. This is science—we’ll just be discussing the data.


When we speak of “liberal and conservative thinking styles” the most important thing to keep in mind: we are talking about group differences, not individual differences. The people that fit into this two-category model described here are generally the most active and hard core members of the parties. This doesn’t account for moderates, nor does it take into account extreme fanatics of both wings, where we start to see mental instability confounding the group traits. Both sides have a little extremity and their fair share of imbalanced individuals in the fringes, so don’t assume any one party is immune.

Additionally, this “liberal/conservative thinking style” division doesn’t account for those types of individuals mentioned up there in point number 2. Some people are just really complex.


But yet. You can’t ignore the fact that it clearly states, based purely on neurological investigations, that conservatives respond to stuff in an emotional way, while the mode of thinking characteristic of liberals is to weigh evidence in a rational manner. The key points are roughly:

… liberals would be more flexible and reliant on data, proof, and analytic reasoning, and conservatives are more inflexible (prefer stability), emotion-driven, and connect themselves intimately with their ideas, making those beliefs a crucial part of their identity (we see this in more high-empathy-expressing individuals).

And you know what? It seems pretty plausible to me.