If you’ve ever listened to (or participated in) a political discussion, you know that it often isn’t rational. Brain scans have now confirmed this, at least as far as partisanship goes. Researchers have found that people with strong partisan feelings reacted to political statements with the parts of the brain that deal with emotions, and even feel relief and other positive emotions if statements that go against these partisan inclinations are refuted. The research involved only those with strong partisan feelings. It would be interesting to see if there was a difference in the way moderates reacted to such statements. In the meantime, it seems that those with strong political feelings would be wise to carefully consider whether they’re thinking rationally or emotionally.
Speaking of emotions, what about that good feeling you get when someone nasty gets what they deserve? Well, apparently, men feel this stronger than women. I’m curious, though, how the results would have been if they had conducted the experiment with a crime other than cheating or a punishment other than pain. What would happen if they told some American subjects that French women do get fat?
Yes, the French are getting fatter. As you might expect, the French health authorities are getting upset. I’m sure the fact that they’ll have to foot the bill for the impending health utilization contributes to that. Based on the end of this article, however, the French people seem to be okay with their expansion. Perhaps that’s the new French paradox.
This post refers to:
Carey, Benedict. “A Shocker: Partisan Thought Is Unconscious.” New York Times. January 24, 2006
Miller, Greg. “No Sympathy for the Devil.” ScienceNOW Daily News. January 18, 2006
Sciolino, Elaine. “France Battles a Problem That Grows and Grows: Fat.” New York Times. January 25, 2006.