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Conservative Left Brain, Liberal Right Brain

The Hemisphericity Theory of Political Orientation

We have talked a lot about the political and religious significance of the catecholamine neurotransmitters, dopamine and noradrenaline--but have scarcely mentioned the amino acids, which are the most common neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. The two main amino acids are glutamate, which is the primary excitatory neurotransmitter, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is the primary inhibitor.

But there is a good reason we have left glutamate and GABA out of our neuropolitical discussions--the amino acid neurotransmitters are not systematized as are dopamine and noradrenaline, that is, they are not organized into functionally and anatomically cohesive networks. On the other hand, the dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems have a significant degree of functional and anatomical cohesiveness, and corresponding behavioral and cognitive specificity, along with corresponding impacts on autonomic nervous system functions to support the respective behaviors they promote.

As we have proposed in a variety of articles on this website, the organized dopaminergic and noradrenergic neurotransmitter systems are highly active in contributing to many of the behavioral and cognitive variations in Conservatives and Liberals.

The dopaminergic system is divided into several major subsystems that activate various cortical and subcortical structures to facilitate the initiation and termination of motor control, along with the hotly political behaviors of reward-seeking and reward-anticipation, approach, exploration, along with the general prefrontal executive activities such as behavioral planning and working memory management.

The noradrenergic system is also divided into subsystems, activating various cortical and subcortical regions, and facilitating selective attention, analysis of novel and threatening stimuli, behavioral inhibition, negative emotional arousal (particularly in the ascending projection of the locus coeruleus), and, like it's close cousin dopamine, general prefrontal executive functions of behavioral planning and working memory management.

The dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems are proposed by Tucker and Williamson to be asymmetrically distributed in left and right hemispheres, respectively--engendering each hemisphere to specialize in functionality. The cognitive and behavioral variations of the two hemispheres have been well documented, most notably by Roger Sperry, who won the Nobel prize for his split-brain research that exposed the enormous degree of lateralization in left and right hemispheric cognition. (See our earlier article, Conservative Left Brain, Liberal Right Brain that highlights some of this research). Conservatism and Liberalism would reflect the cognitive asymmetries of the left and right hemispheres, respectively.

The dopaminergic system, which is more activated in the left hemisphere, would also provide a foundation for the evolution of language, which would take advantage of dopamine's superior signal-to-noise ratio that facilitates both the fine motor control required by speech and the semantic demands of language.

But the left hemisphere's linguistic evolution would further accentuate the anatomical and physiological variations in symmetry found in primates (and vertebrates in general). The human right brain is, on average, slightly larger and heavier than the left brain, contains a lower gray to white matter ratio, and exhibits a wider distribution of axonal components.

The vertebrate brain is a paired-organ, and the brain halves support the symmetrical lateralization of sensory-motor functions. Communication and coordination between the two hemispheres is managed via the corpus callosum, along with other structures such as the anterior and posterior commissures. How the corpus collosum coordinates cerebral communication has been the subject of much discussion.

In the 1980s, Webster introduced the ungated callosal function hypothesis, which proposed that each hemisphere is susceptible to interference via the corpus callosum from homologous regions in the contralateral hemisphere. In other words, the left hemisphere is interfering with the operation of the right hemisphere, and vice-versa. Further, the interference is waged by neuronal groups that reside in the same location in both hemispheres via fibers that extend through the corpus callosum.

However, the role of the corpus callosum, which connects the cerebral cortices of the two hemispheres and allows them to exchange information, was also counter-proposed to facilitate an excitatory relationship between the two brains. That is, activity in one hemisphere would generally trigger corresponding activity in the other hemisphere.

Norman Cook would merge these two theories with his topographic inhibitory theory, proposing that a neural group on the one side of the brain would inhibit the exact same neural group on the other side, at the same time allowing adjacent neural activity to develop around the inhibited contralateral neurons. The cognitive interpretation was that this served to provide consciousness with an expanded or contextual view of the selected target.

With regards to political cognition, few regions of the brain have the political impact of the orbitofrontal cortex, which is distributed bilaterally (in both hemispheres).


The Politically-Hot Orbitofrontal Cortex: Moderating Reward-Seeking with Empathy and Regulating Social Behavior

The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), shown above, is commonly thought of as the cortical executive of the emotional "limbic" system, and is anatomically close to the amygdala, sharing close interconnections. Lesions to the orbitofrontal cortex can result in sociopathic behavior and the inability to resolve emotional states in others.

However, the functioning of the left and right OFCs are not symmetric. Lesions to the left OFC can result in a reduction in reward-seeking behaviors, and lesions to the right can result in an increase. The right and left OFCs communicate with each other via the corpus callosum, but exhibit more connectivity with neurons within their own hemisphere than from each other.

The left and right orbitofrontal cortices have evolved into a gate that regulates personal reward-seeking in the context of social life. Evolution has produced a neural network that regulates the needs of the individual within social contexts.

Although dopaminergic and noradrenergic priming of the activity levels of the left and right orbitofrontal cortices is not well understood, the overall behavioral patterns of humans, and many mammals, indicate that variations in the activities of these two neurotransmitter systems are impacting the predisposition towards reward-seeking.

In short, the dopaminergic system seems to be priming the OFC to favor reward-seeking, and the noradrenergic system to favor inhibition of reward-seeking in cases where it conflicts with empathy assessments. In short, the right-brain is more oriented towards inhibition of reward-seeking, and the left-brain is more oriented towards promoting it.

It is no coincidence that the socio-economic events that pit reward-seeking against empathy, such as oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, draw a lot of attention from Conservatives and Liberals.

This is not to say that Conservatives do not use empathy in self-regulation. Conservatives adapt social inhibition mechanisms just like Liberals do, but they are more likely to rely on non-empathetic behavioral inhibition mechanisms, such as morality and religiosity. This was evident in our Winter 2006 survey, when we asked the 1,616 respondents: How do you make most of your political decisions?


Reasons for Political Decision Making (Green=Logic, Red=Morality, Blue=Social Concern, Yellow=Religion) (VL=Very Liberal, L=Liberal, C=Conservative, VC=Very Conservative) (F=Female, M=Male)

While we had a significant number of responses indicating logic (in green), fMRI evidence has found that "logical" neural networks, while activated by political topics, are heavily integrated with the highly emotional "limbic" networks. "Logical" and "emotional" neural networks are hard to separate even during pure mathematical reasoning, let alone the emotionally charged "political" cognition. Our current interpretation is that the logic response is more closely related to reward-seeking. However, we must state that we have no current direct evidence for this presumption.

The Liberals were most likely to indicate social concern (in blue) as their primary reason for political decision making. In contrast, the Conservatives had very low rates of social concern. Conversely, the Conservatives are more likely indicate morality (in red) and religion (in yellow).

While the orientation of the Liberals towards empathy in political decision making is indicative of the stronger influence of the right orbitofrontal cortex, the Liberals, on average, exhibit a general shift towards general right hemispheric cognition. The Liberals, on average, have more ambiguous cognitive styles, lower competitive profiles, lower rates of organized religious beliefs, higher rates of spiritualism, higher susceptibility towards depressive and anxious disorders, lower rates of self-confidence, etc, etc, etc. All these traits are indicative of the greater influence of the right hemisphere in Liberal behavior and cognition.

This is due to the activated noradrenergic system in the right hemisphere, impacting all the neural structures along the noradrenergic pathways, along with the socially-concerned right orbitofrontal cortex. The Liberals have adapted predominately right-hemispheric empathetic neural networks to moderate reward-seeking in social contexts.

Conversely, the Conservatives are not reliant on right-hemispheric empathetic neural networks in regulating reward-seeking in social contexts, and rely more on the dopaminergically activated left-hemispheric neural networks involving the prefrontal (oriented towards morality) and temporal (oriented towards religiosity) cortices to regulate their social behavior.

While empathy, morality, and religiosity are relatively recent reward-seeking inhibitory mechanisms, they are actually built upon the neural substrates of the oldest behavioral inhibition mechanism--harm avoidance. Empathy, morality, and religiosity have closely related but not completely identical neurological substrates, and are all integrated with the neural networks responsible for harm avoidance.

A Theory of Tendencies

This is only a theory of statistical tendencies. There are many "right-brained" Conservatives and "left-brained" Liberals. Variations in environment, neural anatomy and neural physiology are common, and a simple theory of hemisphericity will not explain all political variation.

However, this theory fits the statistical modes of the cognitive data quite well, and also accounts, via the positive impact of the sunlight and heat on the dopaminergic system, for the anomalous socio-political behavior of the caucasians as they descended from the higher latitudes of Europe and into lower sun-drenched latitudes of the new world.

Not to be lost in all of this is the adaptation of each hemisphere in regulating personal reward-seeking in social contexts. Evolution has provided humans with three additional reward-seeking inhibitory mechanisms-- empathy, morality, and religiosity, which are distributed asymmetrically across the left and right hemispheres, and which seem to promote different rates of fertility in different habitats.

Perhaps nothing is more indicative of the variations in Conservative and Liberal hemisphericity as is cognitive unambiguity. The Conservative propensity towards cognitive unambiguity is pronounced, and driven by the monosemantic orientation of the left hemisphere. The Liberal tolerance of ambiguity is driven by the polysemantic orientation of the right hemisphere.

As Roger Sperry said in his Nobel lecture, "the same individual can be observed to employ consistently one or the other of two distinct forms of mental approach and strategy, much like two different people, depending on whether the left or right hemisphere is in use."

In retrospect, it is not surprising that the left and right hemispheres have different political orientations. But maybe humans knew this all along, as we suspiciously chose the categorizations of "left" and "right" to define political tendencies. After all, the "left" side of the body is under the control of the right hemisphere, and the "right" side is under the control of the left.

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Pew Research Center Survey and the Neuropolitics.org Depression Reports

In October through November 2005, the Pew Research Center conducted a telephone survey of 3,014 U.S. residents and found that Republicans, on average, are happier than Democrats.

Earlier that year, in March 2005, Neuropolitics.org conducted an internet survey that found that Liberals were more likely to report depressive and anxious disorders than were Conservatives. These results were published on our website in May 2005. We conducted a follow-up survey in June 2005 to determine the specific anxiety and depressive illnesses by political cohort, and published those results in our September and October 2005 editions.

We are not sure if our reports on depression and anxiety instigated the Pew Research Center's "Happiness" survey, but they did report that "happiness" correlated positively with residence in the southern latitudes of the U.S.

In September 2005, Neuropolitics.org introduced the Sunlight Theory of Political Preference, which proposed that the enhanced sunlight intensity of the lower latitudes was increasing the synthesis rates of testosterone, estrogen, and subsequently the activation of the dopaminergic system, which increases the propensity towards conservatism. The elevated activation levels of the dopaminergic system would also account for the elevated cognitive self-assessments of happiness in the lower U.S. latitudes.

 

 

Brack and Zhang, April 2006

 

Email: Brack@Neuropolitics.org
          Zhang@Neuropolitics.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Conservatives and Liberals Organize Into Social Groups

Part 2: Inter-Group Competition

In last month's edition, we presented evidence of an elevated Conservative tendency to organize into hierarchical social groups. This tendency increased with the strength of conservativism, and was more prominent in Conservative males than in females.

We also noted that Conservatives had a much higher social valuation of the rich and powerful. They were more likely to consider it a duty to support a president with contrary politics. The Conservative males were more likely to participate in organized high school sports. They were also more likely to own pack animals (dogs) rather than territorial animals (cats).

In contrast, the Liberals had a very negative social valuation of the rich and powerful and were much less likely to consider it a duty to support a politically contrary president. The males were less likely to participate in organized high school sports. The Liberals were also more likely to own territorial animals (cats) than pack animals (dogs). Although we did not originally report it, this tendency was pronounced in urban, suburban and rural areas.

Curiously, the Conservative's positive valuation of the rich and powerful occurs even if Conservatives hold lower social positions. We asked the 1,616 respondents to our Winter 2006 survey where they ranked in the chain of command at their workplace. We consolidated the responses into Low cohorts (respondents indicating a lower than average rank within their work hierarchy), and High cohorts (respondents indicating a higher than average rank). Those respondents indicating middle positions were not included in this analysis, although they follow the same patterns.

The Impact of Job Rank and Household Income on the Perception of the Rich and Powerful

We asked these respondents to evaluate whether the rich and powerful provide jobs, take advantage of people, or both.


The Rich and Powerful (Red=Take Advantage, Green=Provide Jobs, Blue=Both) (VL=Very Liberal, L=Liberal, C=Conservative, VC=Very Conservative) (M=Male, F=Female) (Low=Low Rank at Work, High=High Rank at Work)

As we see in the above graph, rank at the workplace does not materially change the overall perception of the rich and powerful within political cohort. There is a slight improvement in the perception of the rich and powerful by the high-ranking male and female Liberals (as seen by the elevation in both versus take advantage of people).

The low-ranking Conservative females had a slightly better opinion of the rich and powerful than the high-ranking females. The males were the opposite, as the high-ranking had a slightly better opinion. We must add that these small variations were not statistically significant.

In our Spring 2006 survey, we asked the 2,485 respondents a slightly different question and controlled for income levels. This time we asked: Do the rich...take more than they give, give more than they take, or give and take in equal proportions?


Do the rich...(Red=Take More, Green=Give More, Blue=About Even) (L=Liberal, C=Conservative) (M=Male, F=Female) (<50=Household Income under $50K, <130=Household Income between $50-$130K, 130+=Household Income over $130K)

The Liberals, regardless of their personal income levels, are consistent in their negative opinions of the rich, as indicative of their "take more than they give" responses (in red). "Give more than they take" responses (in green) were very rare among the Liberals. Remarkably, Liberal income levels produce little variation in the perception of the rich. The Liberal males with household incomes over $130K have a slight elevation in their opinion of the rich.

The Conservatives again had a much more positive view of the rich, as they were, on average, split between "give more than they take" and "about even", but still had a small percentage of "take more than they give" responses. Variations in personal household income would have almost no impact on the opinions of Conservative females, but the Conservative males would show a statistically significant shift towards a positive valuation of the rich as their own personal incomes grew.

In short, low-income Conservatives have as nearly a positive view of the rich as do the rich Conservatives. The Conservative's more positive view of the rich and powerful certainly stabilizes hierarchical social groups and reduces conflict within those groups. It also provides an executive control mechanism where the social leaders can exert more influence on the behavior of the group. This is best seen in military organizations, which tend to be very conservative.

The Conservative Advantage in Workplace Hierarchies

The Conservative's affinity for hierarchical social structures is also evident by the Conservative's higher ascent within those organizations. From our Winter 2006 survey, let's look at those responding that they ranked higher than average in their workplace in the graph below.


Higher than Average Rank at the Workplace: (VL=Very Liberal, L=Liberal, C=Conservative, VC=Very Conservative) (M=Male, F=Female)

Conservatives of both genders, on average, ascended to higher levels within their respective workplaces than did Liberals. Remarkably, this tendency increases as one goes from left to right on the political spectrum. We must add that in our Spring 2006 survey, we were not able to replicate the female pattern. However, the male pattern was replicated. The Conservative female's elevated ascent in hierarchical business organizations is still much in doubt.

Anarchy, Fascism, and Communism

Analogs of anarchy, fascism, and communism are all employed in a wide variety of social organizations in all societies, regardless of the political orientation of the government. In our Spring 2006 survey, we asked the 2,485 respondents if they had to choose, which of the following systems would they prefer: anarchy, fascism, or communism? The responses indicating anarchy are in the graph below.


Preference for Anarchy over Communism and Fascism (VL=Very Liberal, L=Liberal, C=Conservative, VC=Very Conservative) (M=Male, F=Female)

The Conservatives, on average, had a preference for anarchy over both communism and fascism, and this tendency varied proportionately with the strength of Conservative beliefs. We believe this to be consistent with the Conservative's enhanced tendency for reward-seeking, as both communistic and fascist social organizations employ more restrictions on personal behavior than anarchy.

The Liberals are more tolerant of governmental regulation, as they had the lowest preference for anarchy, again consistent with the reduced tendency of the Liberals for reward-seeking. But if forced to choose between communism and fascism, the Liberals would overwhelmingly select the former, as seen below.


Preference between Communism (in Blue) or Fascism (in Red) (VL=Very Liberal, L=Liberal, C=Conservative, VC=Very Conservative) (M=Male, F=Female)

The Liberals would strongly favor communism over fascism. Surprisingly, the Conservative females would slightly favor communism, and the Very Conservative females would slightly favor fascism. The Conservative and Very Conservative males would strongly favor fascism over communism, which is consistent with other research.

Discussion

The Conservative's positive social valuation of the rich and powerful allows them to continue as the primary organizing force of economic production. No doubt a society full of Liberals would make it very difficult for them.

This enhanced valuation of the rich and powerful is curiously independent of the socioeconomic status of the Conservative. Lower-income Conservatives are not typically applying equity considerations in their evalution of the rich and powerful, which is quite a contrast to the Liberals.

But there seems to be a good evolutionary reason for the lower-income Conservative's attraction to hierarchical social groups, which has deep roots in primate social behavior. Food competition correlates very highly with strong male dominance hierarchies in primates. These dominance hierarchies provide two important survival functions--to reduce intra-group conflict, and to maximize the value of inter-group competition.

Organizing into hierarchical social groups is much more likely to occur in competitive and threatening environments, which is consistent with primate behavior. The Conservatives, which in an earlier survey reported higher levels of suspiciousness of strangers, also perceive outside groups to be more threatening. The elevated defensive orientation of Conservatives is evident from our Spring 2006 survey, when we asked: When do you think al-Qaida will attack the U.S. again? Those that believe al-Qaida will attack within five years is listed in the graph below.


Those believing that al-Qaida will attack the US within 5 years. (L=Liberal, C=Conservative) (M=Male, F=Female) (<50=Household Income under $50K, <130=Household Income between $50-$130K, 130+=Household Income over $130K)

The Conservatives have a substantial elevation in the threat assessment from al-Qaida. Interestingly, income levels and threat assessment are correlated variables.

Conservatives have a higher propensity to both initiate and react to inter-group competition, and a correspondingly greater propensity to organize into hierarchical social groups to facilitate it. The propensity to more willingly accept lower social positions among the lower-income Conservatives, along with their elevated social valuation of the rich and powerful, facilitates inter-group competition. It is no coincidence that this correlates with their elevated threat assessments from other social groups.

The lower competitive levels of Liberals contribute to their reduced tendency to organize into hierarchical social groups, and also their difficulty in achieving higher ranks within those organizations, at least for the males. The strongly hierarchical social group is not an easy place for the average Liberal to be.

Primate dominance and submissive behaviors are not practiced equally by Conservatives and Liberals. This is most evident in the social valuation of the rich and powerful. But submissiveness in hierarchical social organizations is best evidenced by the greater influence of the dominant members over subordinate behavior.

This would imply that Conservatives in the bottom rungs of hierarchical social organizations (e.g., business enterprises) are more likely to execute the demands of the leaders. Liberals are more likely to subvert those demands in favor of more locally adaptive approaches. Conservative and Liberal behavior in business enterprises is not equivalent, and each has some interesting advantages and disadvantages. Conservatives and Liberals organize differently into business organizations and also into economies in general.

But we have left off the best part: the age-old question of Conservatives, Liberals, fascism, and communism, and the strange relationship to hemisphericity that we detected in our Spring survey. More to come in Part 3 of this series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Evolutionary Value of Conservatism and Liberalism

Part 1: Instability in the Proportions of Conservatives and Liberals

Conservatives possess such an impressive arsenal of survival behaviors that one wonders how the Liberals have managed to survive among them. But survive they do, and in large numbers.

As we saw in the adjacent article, Conservatives are better adapted for inter-group competition. But Conservatives and Liberals have many other notable variations in their adaptive survival strategies. Curiously, some of these variations are symbiotic.

The Vietnam War would have the unexpected result of assisting in the development of evolutionary game theory. In 1972, John Maynard Smith would connect game theory and the theory of animal conflict. Smith was a leftist, and in a poorly veiled social commentary about the Vietnam War, he invented the classic Hawk-Dove game that would pit his resource-stealing and war-mongering Hawks against his resource-sharing and peaceful Doves.

In Smith's initial model, when a Hawk encountered the Dove, the Dove fled, leaving all the resources for the Hawk. This was a pretty good situation for the Hawk, except for the fact that there were other Hawks. A Hawk-Hawk confrontation led to mutual destruction, and after assigning evolutionary "values" to the permutations of Hawk and Dove confrontations, the survival value of Hawkish behavior was equal to that of the Dove.

Smith had proposed the idea of the evolutionary stable system, as in the above case where competitive strategies could not drive out cooperative strategies. However, evolution and stability are not very compatible, and Smith's line of reasoning was more designed to explain why both cooperation and competition would coexist among the same species.

No doubt Smith, who was ever conscious of the evolutionary significance of current events, was secretly applying his Hawk-Dove game to Conservative and Liberal behavior, which was rather hard to do given the notable cooperative behaviors that both Conservatives and Liberals would exhibit within their social groups. So Smith would later invent a third player in his Hawk-Dove game, called the Retaliator, which would cooperate with the Doves and fight with the Hawks. The Retaliator would display attitudinal reciprocity.

In short, he invented what was already the most commonly displayed behavioral phenotype in the primate world, not to mention the final victor in his Hawk-Dove game. But this whole line of reasoning seemed to imply that political behavior was at least partially inherited.

The Hereditability of Political Attitudes

When Thomas Bouchard et al published a paper titled "...Twins Study of Social Attitudes", the heredity of political attitudes was firmly established by the study of homozygous and heterozygous twins separated at birth. Further research by John Alford et al, combining the substantial twin data from the Virginian and Australian studies, would confirm that genetics plays a larger role in personal political tendencies than does environment.

Heredity of political attitudes was throwing genetics firmly in the front seat of political orientation. But how? None of these studies has proposed an answer, and to our knowledge, only Brack and Zhang's Hemisphericity Theory of Political Orientation provides a biological theory of variations in political attitudes (see the article on the left). Alleles that formulate the disposition towards hemisphericity are inheritable, and are therefore subject to the same rules of genetic fitness as any other allele group.

Conservative, Liberal, Moderate, Libertarian, etc, are all political phenotypes that each have a survival value that we propose to be variant across socio-economic habitats. For example, the survival value of Conservative behavior is not the same in every environment. These variations in habitat fitness are the basis for changes in the relative proportions of the political phenotypes over time. Within the same habitat, the relative proportions of Conservatives and Liberals is not constant.

The question is--what is causing these proportions to be unstable?

Reproductive Rates

Except for large-scale warfare, famine, or mass migrations, few things have the long-term political impact of high birth rates. Simply put, caucasian Conservatism is less oriented towards reproductive inhibition than is caucasian Liberalism.

The Conservatives are more organized around maintaining reproductive rates. The Conservative attitudes, which tend to promote heterosexuality and anti-abortionism, are the more obvious indicators of this tendency--but the Conservatives possess other subtle behaviors that also promote reproduction.

First, the Conservatives are distributed over more space. That is, Conservatives are more likely to distribute themselves over a wider territory than Liberals. This was discussed in our October 2005 edition. Conservatives are more likely to prefer suburban and rural environments to city life. This tendency is directly related to reproduction.

But this Conservative preference for more space is not just limited to outside the home, but inside it as well. Caucasian Conservatives maintain a greater square footage per person than Liberals regardless of community size (see our November 2005 edition). Conservatives maintain this enhanced square footage in rural, suburban, and city environments. They also maintain this advantage despite having more people per household.

Conservatives and Newborn Babies

Based on the very limited cognitive evidence we've collected regarding the psychological disposition towards newborns, the Conservatives are heavily skewed in their empathetic responses towards babies.

One piece of evidence that we have gathered pertains to the female Conservative's elevated hedonic preference for the odor of newborn babies. This is unusual, since mammals are generally aversive to the infantile odors, unless they are under the elevated influences of estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, vasopressin, oxytocin, prolactin, etc.

In our Spring 2006 survey, we asked the respondents to pick their favorite odors from the following list: Chocolate, Coffee, Vanilla, Garlic, or a Newborn Baby.


Newborn Baby as Favorite Odor (VL=Very Liberal, L=Liberal, C=Conservative, VC=Very Conservative) (M=Male, F=Female)

The Conservative and especially the Very Conservative females were sharply elevated in their preference for the Newborn Baby odor relative to the Liberal females. The Very Conservative females were the only cohort to select Newborn Baby as their favorite odor. (See the interesting inverse correlation between coffee and newborns in the article below).

The age distribution (not shown) was particularly interesting, as the 35-50 age group had the highest average preference for the newborn odors across the Conservative and Liberal political cohorts--even higher than the 18-34 age group. The males (in blue) had very low preferences for the Newborn Baby odor, with an unexpected elevation among the Very Conservatives.

Since the elevated Conservative preference is strong in the Over 50 age group, we do not believe that our results are reflective of whether or not the Conservatives have a baby in the home. However, we cannot be sure, since we did not control for this in our survey.

We also noted that the elevated preference for the odor of newborns is strongly correlated with religiosity in both males and females across both Conservative and Liberal cohorts.

We can only speculate about how this odor preference relates to attitudes on abortion, as we did not control for this in our survey. However, given the strong religious correlation with newborn odor preference, we would fully expect that it is highly correlated with anti-abortionistic attitudes.

Also interesting to note is that we saw a similar elevation in newborn odor preference for those Liberals describing themselves as spiritual, which we believe to be the right-brain's analog of left-brain religiosity, and an indication that the bilateral temporal lobes, more precisely the bilateral olfactory-amygdala-hypothalamic neural networks, are heavily involved in newborn odor preference.

One other interesting note--among males, preference for newborn odor was positively correlated with higher household income. This was true for Liberals, Very Liberals, Conservatives and Very Conservatives. Among females we saw the exact opposite trend--the preference for newborn odor was negatively correlated with household income across all political cohorts. We must add that these correlations were not statistically significant, due to the relatively low preference for newborn odors, on average.

Discussion

In the 2000 U.S. Presidential election, the Republicans won the 19 states highest in caucasian birth rates. The Democrats won the 16 lowest states. This pattern was repeated in 2004. These elevated caucasian birth rates are primarily in the lower latitudes of the United States.

We have proposed that the impact of sunlight intensities in the lower-latitudes have the dual impact of masculinizing males and feminizing females via the positive impact on testosterone and estrogen synthesis. This naturally increases birth rates. It also has the added political impact of priming the dopaminergic system, which promotes Conservative attitudes (see our article in the the September 2005 edition). We also believe that heat has an similar impact, although it has a different physiology.

The caucasian Liberals are no doubt losing the fertility war with the Conservatives. The fact that political disposition is genetically inheritable certainly puts birth rates at the center of the disequilibrium between Liberalism and Conservatism. Without the presence of cataclysmic events, the proportion of caucasian Liberalism should continue its downward trend.

However, caucasian skin is not well adapted for the sun-drenched lower latitudes of the United States, and the long-term future of skin color in this region certainly favors a general darkening over the very long run.

The birth rates of the indigenous hispanic population will accelerate this trend, and the caucasian Conservatives have the ominous task of maintaining their political power in the face of the upcoming non-caucasian majorities in the lower latitudes, which for now, tend to be more liberal.

Interestingly enough, it seems that the subduction of the caucasian gene pool is being facilitated by the Liberals, who seem to be readily mixing with non-caucasians at a faster pace. However, our current evidence of this is rather limited, so this remains to be seen.

But caucasian Conservatives seem to be particularly organized for reproduction, and at a substantial cost. Utah has the highest caucasian birth rate, and also the highest rate of bankruptcy. The elevated Conservative propensity towards reward-seeking certainly supports higher birth rates, and the reproduction-induced territorial dispersion of the Conservatives is best viewed in the voting patterns of suburban and rural communities.

Hidden in all of this is the Conservative tendency towards religious behavioral inhibition in social contexts--which we believe to be particularly important in their reproductive advantage. We believe religiosity is evolution's answer to the problem of maintaining birth rates while simultaneously providing a functional social regulation mechanism.

Empathetic social regulation mechanisms, that are so prominent among the Liberals, appear to be very habitat-sensitive in their regulation of birth rates. In short, caucasian Liberals adapt their birth rates quite readily to the population sustainability of their habitats.

Conservatives have typically led in the caucasian settlement of the new world. The Conservative propensity to spread out is actually very common in primates. It is the Liberal behavior that violates the general rule of homogenous population density. It is no coincidence that high population densities correlate strongly with Liberalistic attitudes.

In the next edition, we will continue our analysis of Conservative and Liberal reproductive variations, and then begin our discussion on some of the other behaviors that create evolutionary advantages for both groups. Not to be forgotten are the poor Moderates, that never get any attention, that don't think about politics very much, that exhibit the least asymmetries in cognitive laterality, and that are actually the bus-drivers for this great evolutionary adventure.

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It's Coffee Versus The Babies

In our Spring 2006 survey, we asked the 2,485 respondents to select their favorite odor from the following list: Chocolate, Coffee, Garlic, Vanilla, or Newborn babies. While coffee was generally the most preferred odor, we found an interesting inverse correlation between the preferences for the odor of newborns and coffee in females as we go from left to right on the political scale.


Coffee (in Brown) vs Newborn Baby (in Peach) as Favorite Odor (VL=Very Liberal, L=Liberal, M=Moderate, C=Conservative, VC=Very Conservative) ( F=Female)

The inverse relationship may have reproductive overtones, as excessive caffeine intake may lower birth weights and increase the risk of miscarriage. The more fertile Conservatives may be moderating these increased risks by a corresponding reduction in caffeine intake, and therefore a lower preference for coffee odors.