Politična biologija in nevroznanost sta zanimivi znanstveni disciplini. Poskušata ugotoviti ali so razlike v političnem (ideološkem) dojemanju sveta pogojene z biološkimi razlikami. Da pač naši možgani določene informacije različno sprocesirajo in zaradi tega različno reagiramo na družbene pojave in na določene javne osebnosti. Da na vse pretege poskušamo racionalizirati stališča ali odnos do oseb, za katere nam naši možgani pošiljajo “pozitivne” ali “negativne” signale. Priporočam v branje tale članek Lydie Denworth v Scientific American.
In 1968 a debate was held between conservative thinker William F. Buckley, Jr., and liberal writer Gore Vidal. It was hoped that these two members of opposing intellectual elites would show Americans living through tumultuous times that political disagreements could be civilized. That idea did not last for long. Instead Buckley and Vidal descended rapidly into name-calling. Afterward, they sued each other for defamation.
The story of the 1968 debate opens a well-regarded 2013 book called Predisposed, which introduced the general public to the field of political neuroscience. The authors, a trio of political scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Rice University, argued that if the differences between liberals and conservatives seem profound and even unbridgeable, it is because they are rooted in personality characteristics and biological predispositions.
On the whole, the research shows, conservatives desire security, predictability and authority more than liberals do, and liberals are more comfortable with novelty, nuance and complexity. If you had put Buckley and Vidal in a magnetic resonance imaging machine and presented them with identical images, you would likely have seen differences in their brain, especially in the areas that process social and emotional information. The volume of gray matter, or neural cell bodies, making up the anterior cingulate cortex, an area that helps detect errors and resolve conflicts, tends to be larger in liberals. And the amygdala, which is important for regulating emotions and evaluating threats, is larger in conservatives.
So what can the study of neural activity suggest about political behavior? The still emerging field of political neuroscience has begun to move beyond describing basic structural and functional brain differences between people of different ideological persuasions—gauging who has the biggest amygdala—to more nuanced investigations of how certain cognitive processes underlie our political thinking and decision-making. Partisanship does not just affect our vote; it influences our memory, reasoning and even our perception of truth. Knowing this will not magically bring us all together, but researchers hope that continuing to understand the way partisanship influences our brain might at least allow us to counter its worst effects: the divisiveness that can tear apart the shared values required to retain a sense of national unity.
Motivated reasoning, in which people work hard to justify their opinions or decisions, even in the face of conflicting evidence, has been a popular topic in political neuroscience because there is a lot of it going around. While partisanship plays a role, motivated reasoning goes deeper than that. Just as most of us like to think we are good-hearted human beings, people generally prefer to believe that the society they live in is desirable, fair and legitimate. “Even if society isn’t perfect, and there are things to be criticized about it, there is a preference to think that you live in a good society,” Nam says. When that preference is particularly strong, she adds, “that can lead to things like simply rationalizing or accepting long-standing inequalities or injustices.” Psychologists call the cognitive process that lets us do so “system justification.”
Nam and her colleagues set out to understand which brain areas govern the affective processes that underlie system justification. They found that the volume of gray matter in the amygdala is linked to the tendency to perceive the social system as legitimate and desirable. Their interpretation is that “this preference to system justify is related to these basic neurobiological predispositions to be alert to potential threats in your environment,” Nam says.
Understanding the influence of partisanship on identity, even down to the level of neurons, “helps to explain why people place party loyalty over policy, and even over truth,” argued psychologists Jay Van Bavel and Andrea Pereira, both then at New York University, in Trends in Cognitive Sciences in 2018. In short, we derive our identities from both our individual characteristics, such as being a parent, and our group memberships, such as being a New Yorker or an American. These affiliations serve multiple social goals: they feed our need to belong and desire for closure and predictability, and they endorse our moral values. And our brain represents them much as it does other forms of social identity.
No, zame je nauk teh spoznanj bolj v potrditvi tega, kar intuitivno “vem” že od nekdaj, in sicer da – ker smo si itak različni – se je treba poslušati in pustiti drugemu svoje mnenje. Ne da druge prepričujemo, da nimajo prav, pač pa, da razumemo, zakaj tako razmišljajo. In da lahko s temi razlikami odlično shajamo. No, tudi ta moj pragmatizem je očitno globoko biološko pogojen.
“The biology and neuroscience of politics might be useful in terms of what is effective at getting through to people,” Van Bavel says. “Maybe the way to interact with someone who disagrees with me politically is not to try to persuade them on the deep issue, because I might never get there. It’s more to try to understand where they’re coming from and shatter their stereotypes.”
Vir: Lydie Denworth, Scientific American