27 Nov 2017

Yale Psych Prof Finds Cause (Fear, Of Course) of Conservatism and Discovers Cure

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Professor Bargh tells all in the Washington Post:

Conservatives, it turns out, react more strongly to physical threat than liberals do. In fact, their greater concern with physical safety seems to be determined early in life: In one University of California study, the more fear a 4-year-old showed in a laboratory situation, the more conservative his or her political attitudes were found to be 20 years later. Brain imaging studies have even shown that the fear center of the brain, the amygdala, is actually larger in conservatives than in liberals. And many other laboratory studies have found that when adult liberals experienced physical threat, their political and social attitudes became more conservative (temporarily, of course). But no one had ever turned conservatives into liberals.

Until we did.


John Bargh, the (God help us!) James Rowland Angell Professor of Psychology at Yale.

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Personally, I’d bet if I could get my hands on Professor Bargh for experimental purposes, I could prove empirically that the liberal Professor would react a lot more strongly to the physical threat of getting punched in the nose than I (the extreme conservative) would. We could play Mexican Standoff, and I’d even let the good professor have the first punch.

I had thought that the supposed ability of savants to associate physical features with psychological dispositions or states (Phrenology) was long discredited, but obviously in today’s academic culture ancient heresies and crackpot notions do keep coming back.

When I read this kind of thing, I blush for Yale and I wish once again that Peter Salovey could be immediately replaced by someone genuinely educated and serious: the kind of old-fashioned scholar who would take one look at this Washington Post article and send the onomatopoeic Professor Bargh and his entire preposterous department of “social psychology” packing.

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5 Feedbacks on "Yale Psych Prof Finds Cause (Fear, Of Course) of Conservatism and Discovers Cure"

Lee

Don’t they mean, “his, her, their, xer or its political attitudes were found to be 20 years later”?

When I was 24, I was an idiot — and annoyingly liberal. I wised up.

Can’t access the Wapo article — exposed my brain to too much of this November.



Soren K

Curious…. perhaps a case of selective editing or not fully exploring the full range of questions here. When I read…. “Brain imaging studies have even shown that the fear center of the brain, the amygdala, is actually larger in conservatives than in liberals.” I consider that perhaps the liberal brain has an exceptionally large irresponsible pleasure center, or perhaps it’s the “not my money” center.

Maybe a more full reading would indicate that conservative brains do in fact have larger amygdola because the entire brain of a conservitive is larger than the liberals and the amygdola is merely in proportion to the brain as a whole.

So many questions. Such an absurd topic.



Surellin

I would have called that an Irish Stand Down rather than Mexican Standoff, but perhaps that’s because I am a brain-damaged conservative.



ThomasS

“Go to your safe places class. Now imagine you are as brave as a momma bear. Now should gays be able to marry?” – but is it science?



Seattle Sam

Peter Salovey has suggested here that Yale WOULD be better off if they replaced him — with a racial or ethnic minority. https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2017/11/28/yale-leadership-lacks-diversity/



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