The Electric Commentary

Thursday, January 26, 2006

What were you thinking?

Partisan thought is unconscious. The NY Times reports:

Using M.R.I. scanners, neuroscientists have now tracked what happens in the politically partisan brain when it tries to digest damning facts about favored candidates or criticisms of them. The process is almost entirely emotional and unconscious, the researchers report, and there are flares of activity in the brain's pleasure centers when unwelcome information is being rejected.

"Everything we know about cognition suggests that, when faced with a contradiction, we use the rational regions of our brain to think about it, but that was not the case here," said Dr. Drew Westen, a psychologist at Emory and lead author of the study, to be presented Saturday at meetings of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Palm Springs, Calif.

I'm not surprised a bit.

Hat tip Arnold Kling.


  • You don't need FMRI to figure that out. Cognitive psychology has already treats this as a fairly well established concept.

    "Age of Propaganda" by Pratkanis and Aronson would be a good read on the processing of political information & such.

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 3:42 PM  

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