Are Conservatives Born or Made?

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Your parents made you liberal or conservative--but not necessarily with their dinner-table political rants. Apparently, it might be in your DNA. Conservatives have brains with bigger amygdalas--the part of the brain associated with fear--and a smaller anterior cingulate--the area of the brain associated with bravery and optimism, a new British study finds. Whether that means people are born with brains wired for a particular ideology or if experience shapes your mental hardware remains unclear, as the researchers only looked at adults.

Scientists at University College London looked at brain scans of 90 students, plus two politicians, and asked them about their political views, the Telegraph's Richard Alleyne reports. The findings echo earlier findings of a "liberal gene," which correlates with liberal politics and thrill seeking. Earlier this year, a University of Nebraska study, noted by The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof, found that "some humans are particularly alert to threats, particularly primed to feel vulnerable and perceive danger. Those people are more likely to be conservatives." People who had strong blink reflexes when startled by bright lights or loud sounds were more likely to favor gun rights, the study said.

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