Do we really choose to be conservative? Our psychology – the basis of our personality – but also the configuration of our brain could make us lean more towards the left or the right side, politically speaking. And our free will? And our social and political thinking? Do they count for plums? For a good fifteen years, studies on the subject have piled up, accumulating surprising results. With the appearance of very divisive subjects such as vaccination or the climate crisis, new insights have emerged. Is there a science of conservatism?
Most studies use the Anglo-Saxon divide between conservatives and liberals. However, in France, this last term has a completely different meaning. In France, we would rather speak of a right-left divide, which is a better interpretation than the literal translation of the terms used in the studies. But the result is the same: there are many differences in behavior between people on the right and on the left, and also distinct functionings that psychologists and neuroscientists have highlighted.
As early as 2013, Darren Schreiber of the University of Exeter (England) and his colleagues examined how these brains with opposing ideologies behaved and concluded that they used different cognitive processes when it came to making of risk, and that conservatives were more sensitive to the threats they could pose.
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