An area of interest that I’ve been exploring for the past several years is the link between personality and beliefs. We may like to think that we freely choose our beliefs, but there is growing evidence that beliefs are predisposed to some extent at birth due to inborn traits that arise from genetically determined brain wiring. Environment, education and upbringing are significant influences, yet there seem to be core personality traits that are common to those who subscribe to certain beliefs, such as religion and political leanings.
One example is the strong correlation between right-wind authoritarianism (RWA) or social dominance orientation (SDO) and right-wing conservative political beliefs. There are studies that attempt to determine if this disposition is due to personality type or learned attitudes and beliefs. (See blog post series on RWA-SDO.) Although exact prediction of high RWA-SDO tendencies cannot yet be proven based only on personality types, there are correlations to a particular cluster of personality traits and attitudes. These tendencies are reflected in brain structure and can be identified by brain activity observed during a brain scan.
Similarly, high RWA-SDO tendencies are strong predictors of “chosen” religious preferences, namely conservative Christian evangelicalism or the extremism or fundamentalism that might be found in any religion or ideology.
Does this mean we might be able to identify those with radical political, religious or other beliefs based on brain scans? That seems to be a strong possibility. Would you get a brain scan for yourself and loved ones to find out if there is some tendency toward extremist that would cause problems later in life? Something to think about.
Note – following references are not indicated by footnotes in the body of this post since all provide support for above statements in some degree.
- “The Conservative Mind” – NYTimes.com” <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/opinion/brooks-the-conservative-mind.html?src=me&ref=general&pagewanted=print>
- “Researchers help define what makes a political conservative” <http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/07/22_politics.shtml>
- “Voting genes: Are political views inherited?” <http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/04/20/voting-genes-are-political-views-inherited/>
- “Politics on the Brain: Scans Show Whether You Lean Left or Right” <http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42475322/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/politics-brain-scans-show-whether-you-lean-left-or-right/>
- “Biology of politics: Brain scans can identify your political beliefs?” <http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2014/10/31/biology-of-politics-brain-scans-can-identify-your-political-beliefs/>
- “Can Your Genes Predict Whether You’ll Be a Conservative or a Liberal?” <http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/10/can-your-genes-predict-whether-youll-be-a-conservative-or-a-liberal/280677/>
- “Libertarianism Is For White Men: The Ugly Truth About the Right’s Favorite Movement” <http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/libertarianism-white-men-ugly-truth-about-rights-favorite-movement>
- “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Christian Spirituality” <http://thenoxfactor.com/files/NoxonMyers-Briggs.pdf>
Related Blog Articles in this series: