Left and right see things differently

The way people think about politics can influence their physiological and cognitive behaviour, new research has suggested. Carried out at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), the study found conservatives and liberals reacted differently when shown certain images.

Investigators from the institute wanted to see whether stereotypes of the different groups - such as conservatives being depicted as fear-mongering and liberals painted as being self-indulgent - really hold true.

According to the report, the former group responded strongly and fixated on unpleasant pictures, while the latter reacted more notably to pleasant depictions.

Mike Dodd, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at UNL - which was chartered in 1869 - stated: "It's been said that conservatives and liberals don't see things in the same way ... These findings make that clear – quite literally."

While the photographs that engaged the attention of the first set of people included images of a crashed car and an open wound, those focused on by the second featured bunny rabbits and beach balls. 

Dr Roger Kingerlee, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "One would expect liberals and conservatives to have differences of opinion.

"This study provides experimental evidence, however, that those of different political persuasions may selectively attend to very different things in life.

"Beyond that, too, the study begins to explain why, psychologically speaking, conservatives and liberals often seem to inhabit worlds - if not different planets."