What if the argument between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, isn't as clear-cut as it may sometimes seem? That is to say, what if we don't have much of a choice in what we end up believing? What if it's hard-wired into the brain?
It's long been studied, but a recent study explains that it just might be. By studying brain activity during a risk-taking activity such as gambling, researchers were able to predicts folks' political views with 82.9 percent accuracy, which is more accurate than the "what do you parents believe" test (70 percent) or the on that focus on differences in brain structure (71.6 percent).
The study looked at the brains of 82 participants while they gambled. It was impossible to differentiate Republican from Democrat based on what bets they made. These did not differ. What did differ was the brain activity in each during these bets.
During betting, Democrats' brains showed greater activity in the left insula, which is the part connected with social and self-awareness. Meanwhile, Republicans's brains showed activity in the right amygdala, which is the part involved with fight-or-flight.
The question is one of the chicken or the egg, though researchers think that political affiliation might change the brain response. Hence why the brain response changes but not the actual risks being taken.
This isn't the first time researchers have found that outside stimuli can affect brain activity. A study done on London cab drivers found that they have larger areas of gray matter that help them store the map of London in their memory.