Researchers at Virginia Tech have discovered that brain imaging can accurately pinpoint political affiliations.

Montague, the lead researcher, was inspired by a discovery that political affilitation is almost as heritable as height. As HSPS applicants will know, our political affiliations are deeply embodied, and intersect our attitudes towards family, sex, and education for example. This means that political affiliation is not merely a mental exercise, but a lived, embodied experience which can provoke physical reactions.

It was this very notion that Montague was relying on when he began this research. The team at Virginia Tech took functional magnetic resonance images (fMRI) of the brain as subjects looked at a series of disgusting, pleasant, and neutral images.

Montague said that “a single disgusting image was sufficient to predict each subject’s political orientation,” suggesting that political attitudes are based upon preestablished neural responses. Archaeology and Anthropology and Human Sciences applicants should consider how these instincts may have served our ancestors when group affiliations were crucial to human survival.

PPE applicants should investigate political predisposition further, and question how much political leanings should be instinctual, or considered.

More Resources