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Neurocognitive correlates of liberalism and conservatism

Abstract

Political scientists and psychologists have noted that, on average, conservatives show more structured and persistent cognitive styles, whereas liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty. We tested the hypothesis that these profiles relate to differences in general neurocognitive functioning using event-related potentials, and found that greater liberalism was associated with stronger conflict-related anterior cingulate activity, suggesting greater neurocognitive sensitivity to cues for altering a habitual response pattern.

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Figure 1: The relation between political orientation and a neurocognitive index of conflict monitoring.

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Acknowledgements

We thank A. Crampton and B. Lehman for assisting with data collection, and S. Taylor for laboratory support.

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Contributions

D.A. designed and conducted the experiment, analyzed the data, and wrote the manuscript. J.J. contributed to theorizing and co-wrote the manuscript. S.M. assisted in experiment design, data collection, and writing the manuscript. C.Y. provided laboratory support and supervision, and assisted in writing the manuscript.

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Correspondence to David M Amodio.

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Supplementary Figure 1 and Methods (PDF 124 kb)

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Amodio, D., Jost, J., Master, S. et al. Neurocognitive correlates of liberalism and conservatism. Nat Neurosci 10, 1246–1247 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1979

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