Startle Response Linked to Politics
People who startle easy are more likely to adopt a conservative position than people who have a more measured response to a percieved threat.
The finding suggests that people who are particularly sensitive to signals of visual or auditory threats also tend to adopt a more defensive stance on political issues, such as immigration, gun control, defense spending and patriotism. People who are less sensitive to potential threats, by contrast, seem predisposed to hold more liberal positions on those issues.
The researchers questioned the volunteers on such things as their attitudes to the war in Iraq, same-sex marriage and school prayer. Weeks later, they were tested on their 'startle response' to threatening images such as large spiders or a face covered in blood, and other stimuli. People who held conservative views had a stronger startle response.
This seems almost a given to me. So much of a given that I wonder if the researchers just found something they were looking for.
Being even-handed sorts, the researchers say that equanimity is not always the best way to react to a new stimulus, and the conservatives may have the right idea.
"We could spin a story saying it is bad to be so jumpy, but you can also spin a story saying it is bad to be naive about threats," he said. "From an evolutionary point of view, an organism needs to respond to a threat or it won't be around for very long. We are not saying one response is more normal than another."
It does give another boost to the term "kneejerk" conservative, except in this case it's a galvanic skin response conservative.
"Eeek! Where? Make them go away!"
That sort of thing.