Navigation Links
Tendency to fear is strong political influence
Date:2/5/2013

It's no secret that fear is a mechanism often used in political campaigns to steer public opinion on hot-button issues like immigration and war. But not everyone is equally predisposed to be influenced by such a strategy, according to new research by Rose McDermott, professor of political science, and colleagues published in the American Journal of Political Science.

By examining the different ways that fear manifests itself in individuals and its correlation to political attitudes, the researchers found that people who have a greater genetic liability to experience higher levels of social fear tend to be more supportive of anti-immigration and pro-segregation policies. Thus far, research examining the link between fear and political attitudes has seldom accounted for trait-based fear, with transitory state-based fear being a more common focus area.

McDermott co-authored the study, titled "Fear as a Disposition and an Emotional State: A Genetic and Environmental Approach to Out-Group Political Preferences," with Peter K. Hatemi of Penn State University, and Lindon J. Eaves, Kenneth S. Kendler, and Michael C. Neale of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Using a large sample related individuals, including twins, siblings, and parents and children, the researchers first assessed individuals for their propensity for fear using standardized clinically administered interviews. Looking at subjects who were related to one another, the researchers were able to identify influences such as environment and personal experience and found that some individuals also possessed a genetic propensity for a higher level of baseline fear. Such individuals are more prepared to experience fear in general at lower levels of threat or provocation. Next, the researchers surveyed the sample for their attitudes toward out-groups immigrants in this case as well as toward segregation. Participants were also ranked on a liberal-conservative partisanship scale depending on how they self-reported their political attitudes.

The research indicates a strong correlation between social fear and anti-immigration, pro-segregation attitudes. While those individuals with higher levels of social fear exhibited the strongest negative out-group attitudes, even the lowest amount of social phobia was related to substantially less positive out-group attitudes.

"It's not that conservative people are more fearful, it's that fearful people are more conservative. People who are scared of novelty, uncertainty, people they don't know, and things they don't understand, are more supportive of policies that provide them with a sense of surety and security," McDermott said.

The researchers make clear, however, that genetics plays only part of the role in influencing political preferences. Education, they found, had an equally large influence on out-group attitudes, with more highly educated people displaying more supportive attitudes toward out-groups and education having a substantial mediating influence on the correlation between parental fear and child out-group attitudes.

"In this way, the definition of unfamiliar may shift across time and location based on experience and education, and a genetically informed fear disposition is hardly permanent or fixed," the researchers wrote.

McDermott said that while more research is needed to determine how various genetic, biological, and developmental pathways influence fear and what other factors might influence attitudes in concert with these forces, there are still several takeaways to the study, not least of which is how political campaigns might be manipulated to affect some people more than others.

The study also highlights the role emotion plays in the political process.

"We can roll our eyes and get really frustrated at Congress for being paralyzed, but we're applying a rational perspective to it because we're detached. But we have to recognize that a lot of what's driving the paralysis and disagreement has to do with emotional factors that are not necessarily amenible to or easily shifted by rational arguments," McDermott said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Courtney Coelho
courtney_coelho@brown.edu
401-863-7287
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Strong scientific evidence that eating berries benefits the brain
2. A study confirms that long commercials evoke stronger emotions
3. New Biotech and Pharmaceutical Market Research from Global Information Inc Forecasts Strong Growth Coming Out of Recession
4. Poll shows strong voter support for school nutrition standards
5. Accelerating climate change exerts strong pressure on Europes mountain flora
6. Scientists uncover strong support for once-marginalized theory on Parkinsons disease
7. Light weights are just as good for building muscle, getting stronger, researchers find
8. CDS Monarch Deploys DigitalPersona Strong Authentication Solutions for Secure Access to Electronic Medical Records
9. New Tool Helps Drug Developers Optimize Their Research and Target Development for Better Results and a Stronger Competitive Edge
10. Aqueous iron interacts as strong as solid iron
11. Super-strong, high-tech material found to be toxic to aquatic animals
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/16/2016)... --  IdentyTechSolutions America LLC , a leading provider ... a cutting-edge manufacturer of software and hardware security ... integrated solutions that comprise IDT biometric readers and ... IdentyTech,s customers with combined physical identification and anti-tailgating ... theft. "We are proud to use ...
(Date:12/15/2016)... Dec 15, 2016 ... Research and Markets has announced the addition of ... The report forecasts the global military biometrics market to ... The report has been prepared based on an in-depth market analysis ... its growth prospects over the coming years. The report also includes a ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... Dec. 8, 2016 Market Research Future published a half ... global Mobile Biometric Security and Service Market is expected to grow ... Market Highlights: ... , Mobile Biometric Security and ... the increasing need of authentication and security from unwanted cyber threats. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:1/19/2017)... ... January 19, 2017 , ... ... and development (R&D), today announced the launch of Data Science Services ... the rapidly evolving field of precision medicine. , Data Science Services ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... Jan. 19, 2017  ArmaGen, Inc., today announced ... Ph.D., as chief executive officer, as well as ... brings to ArmaGen more than 17 years of ... development of biotherapeutics and pharmaceuticals. ... diverse experience and skillset necessary to lead ArmaGen ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... , ... January 18, 2017 , ... ... tech innovators, engineers, and scientists from around the world, was today awarded the ... awards program is based entirely on merit and decided upon by a dedicated ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... 18, 2017 The global biotechnology services ... billion by 2025, according to a new report ... been adaptive of the function of outsourcing certain ... Among the services outsourced, clinical trial management and ... & Johnson was the first pharmaceutical company to ...
Breaking Biology Technology: