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The differences between liberals and conservatives

Because of the current political situation in the US, liberals and conservatives popped up as a discussion topic in our classroom. These are two opposite ideologies in the US. You can sort them into democrats (liberals) and republicans (conservatives). But what are the disparities and why do people think like that? 

What is the difference? 

Liberals are more open-minded which means they support social and political change in the government. For example, most liberals are pro-choice (that women can chose to have an abortion or not) or pro-gun control. The name “liberal” can be traced back to Latin “liber” which means free. The meaning behind the name tells us much about a liberal opinion, so basically liberals like to try new things and are non-traditional. 

Conservatives are conventional, that means they are for tradition or beliefs. That means they believe in personal responsibility (cause of your own action), individual liberty (freedom to make your own choices) and a well-built national defence (good military). Conservatives are for example for gun rights and against abortion. So, these people are for the empowerment of individuals to solve problems.  

Why do they think like that? 

Between liberals and conservatives there exists a biological difference. Liberals have a larger anterior cingulate cortex which means they have a better understanding and are well versed in monitoring conflict. On the other hand, conservatives have a larger amygdala which helps process anxiety. There has been a study where you could see which person was conservative and which one liberal by viewing brain scans and showing people pictures of limbs. In liberals the brain was activated in the somatosensory 2 region which actuates when you feel sorrowful. Some people did not show a real reaction. These are conservatives, but that does not mean they did not fell anything, these people just dealt differently with the pain. So, the beliefs of liberals and conservatives are related to the brain, but of course the environment of people counts too. 

How can we understand each other’s differences? 

People often start to argue or fight because they have different opinions on things (like liberals and conservatives) as abortion, guns or immigration. The reason is that we often tend to overestimate the extend of our opinion. We also think of other comments or opinions as a threat that shows us we are wrong or not normal, which isn’t always the case. To understand each other’s minds we have to listen more carefully and take into account the other’s values. 

The conflict between these two ideologies are caused by their different brains. Where liberals are socially progressive, conservatives are against rapid changes and support keeping traditions in society. So, to understand each other it is important to not feel offended by other’s opinions and to listen.  

What ideology do you like best and which tips do you have that can help people to relate and understand other’s beliefs? Comment! 


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Written by Lena

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