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Politics of Disgust

November 4, 2014

Brain scans reveal our political leanings.



Political brain scans. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Conducting MRI brain scans of people while they look at disgusting images can reliably predict their political leanings. This according new research published in the journal Current Biology by Virginia Tech neuroscientist Reed Montague. He and his colleagues showed volunteers various images while they were in an MRI scanner. He says that disgusting images, like photos of mutilated animals, triggered brain scans very predictive of a person’s political beliefs.

REED MONTAGUE (Virginia Tech):

If you were a conservative or a liberal, you rated the disgusting images exactly the same—consciously. But your brain betrayed you in dramatic ways. In other words, this is completely your brain responding in a way that predicts your score, because our conscious report doesn’t.


He says other research shows these neural responses may be innate and genetic, and hopes his work will encourage people to become more self reflective about their political views. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.