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Factoring Fear

Updated on October 26, 2011

I Always Figured This

The basic finding of research from the UK should surprise no one. Conservatives have always seemed to behave and think in a more primitive manner than their progressive counterparts. Their 'might makes right' approach to things, their 'herd mentality', best evidenced by the Tea Party and the way they follow folks like Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, or religious and free-market fundamentalists.

But the idea of the conservatives 'fear center' being larger than liberals made me realize that liberals and conservatives also seem to fear different things.

A conservative seems to me to fear things that are rather intangible, their fear of "the government" being the best example.  The reality is more likely that powerful people, especially in the corporate world, see threats to their power and their interests.  These people then utilize folks like Beck and Limbaugh to scare their listeners and viewers and spur them to action, often against the conservative 'outgroups'.  

The fear of these 'outgroups', evidenced best by legislation passed in Arizona and proposed in other states, is another example of the conservative fears being harnessed.  It's likely the oldest right-wing tactic; create a scapegoat group and divide people that should likely be allies against attempts to create a corporate state. The idea of framing efforts by these groups to gain equality as attempts to gain 'rights' falls is another way that this fear is manipulated. 

 Both of these may be examples of what the main fear of the conservative is, the loss of power by the powerful.  In America, the White, Male, majority has seen it's power seem to erode as groups gain social and political power.  The power of corporations is perceived to be under threat as ideas of environmental sustainability and economic justice take hold.

The liberal mind, in my mind, fears things that are tangible and observable.  They fear the rise of corporate power, and see it in things like the Citizens United decision.  They see the debate over gay marriage and reproductive rights as signs that while we fight religious fundamentalists in one part of the world, that we have our own fundamentalists to fight.  They see environmental destruction and fear what effects it could have on future generations. 

And that could be one other difference, and perhaps the big one.  Conservative fear is based often on the here and now.  Progressives can look forward and see long-term consequences.


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    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Re tom hellert's comment: Had our ancestors all been conservatives with a hefty dose of the Fear Factor that allowed them to avoid early predators, we'd still be living in caves. It was "reckless and wild" individuals like Columbus who ignored his own Fear Factor and explored uncharted parts of the planet. To me, "conservative" means "without curiosity or the guts to try new things". Funny the Tea Party never mentions taking the country *forward*, only *back*. But hey, if "back" means the Clinton years when unemployment was practically non-existent, people had money left to do fun things after paying their bills, and the economy was humming along quite nicely, then more power to 'em! ;D

    • tom hellert profile image

      tom hellert 7 years ago from home


      I look at it this way you look down on thisalleged Fear factor quotent, This same factor allowed early humans to survive the early predators of man such as the "big cats" and Neanderthals that maybe did not have that larger fear section and look what happened to them.

      You seem to say its a bad thing- if indeed it is true- it just shows us conservatives are not as reckless and wild.



    • Christopher Price profile image

      Christopher Price 7 years ago from Vermont, USA

      It's quite a stretch to associate the size of a certain part of the brain with a person's political affiliation. However, that being said, a strong Conservative bias could stem from a primitive urge toward self preservation at the expense of caring for our fellow man and society's responsibility to provide the basic necessities for every member.

      Looking at it from that point of view...yeah, it could explain a lot.


    • profile image

      Texasbeta 7 years ago

      Great hub man! I always appreciate reading your thoughts.

    • ElderYoungMan profile image

      Elderyoungman 7 years ago from Worldwide

      Great Hub. It's funny that they don't get that their enemy is embodied by the folks that they vote with.


    • Rabid Puma profile image

      Rabid Puma 7 years ago from Illinois

      Do you have a link to the necessary corollary study that shows that size is related to function in the brain?

      Can you demonstrate that fear drives voting in a significant percentage of conservatives and that it is significantly different percentage than liberals?

    • Valentine Logar profile image

      Valentine Logar 7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      I don't think I could have said this better if I have sat for a week and attempted to do so. I have been thinking about this issue for some time and trying to get my arms around this, you have encapsulated it perfectly!