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Political Attitudes Are Predicted By Physiological Traits Article Review

Political Attitudes Are Predicted By Physiological Traits

Summary of Research

The article titled “Political Attitudes Are Predicted By Physiological Traits” is co-authored by different writers, some of who includes Douglas Oxley. The paper asks and links a very fundamental question on whether the America’s red-blue separate based on the voter’s physiology (Oxley et al, 2008). Though political perceptions have been perceived to arise largely from the individual’s experiences, recent investigation indicates biological foundations. To evaluate the basis, the authors of the article presented evidence that differences in political perceptions largely correlate with the physiological traits (Oxley et al, 2008). Based on the  a study conducted on a group on 46 adult participants with strong political affiliations, individuals with less measurable low physical  sensitivities to unexpected  noises and threatening  visual images were more likely  to embrace foreign  aid,  gun control,  liberal immigration policies, whereas person showing higher psychological  reactions to the same stimuli were more likely to favor  defense expenditure, Iraq war and  capital punishment (Oxley et al, 2008).

The participants in the study were randomly selected over the phone in Lincoln, Neb. However, individual’s expression strong political perceptions irrespective of their content were requested to fill questionnaire about their personality, political traits and beliefs and demographic characteristics (Oxley et al, 2008).  In later session of the study, the participant was attached to the measuring equipment that determines their physiological characteristics when shown a series of threatening images. Similarly, participant also viewed non-threatening images. In the second study, the test applied auditory stimuli to measure involuntary response to the surprising noise. The investigator realized a strong relationship between individuals who reacted strongly to the stimuli and those who expressed support for the socially protective policies that appeared to be upheld by individuals, especially those concerned with protection of the participants group from the threat (Oxley et al, 2008).  Such positions include supporting military expenditure, war on Iraq

Therefore, the article  has revealed that the extent to which individuals are physiologically responsive to threat appear to shows the degree to which they advocate policies that protects the existing social structures from both internal and external threats (Oxley et al, 2008).

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Problem Statements

Conventionally, the nature and source of the political attitude has been subject of the much investigation.  Such attitude is believed to be built from sensible, unencumbered reactions to the environmental events. However, more investigation emphasizes on the built-in and automated quality of many political responses based on brain activation variations( Oxley et al, 2008). However, no research shows why some people embrace certain political attitudes while others appear primed to adopt quite different attitudes.


The question about whether the America’s red-blue separate based on the voter’s physiology fundamentally offers a justifiable rationale for the investigator to assess the relationship.  Traditionally such aspect has largely been associated with imaginative reaction to the environmental events (Oxley et al, 2008). Although the political attitude has been a source of study for many scholars, very little effort has been focused on the investigating the biological impact on the political attitude.


In the study, the authors have devised a supposition that variations in physical sensitivity to threat are related with the political beliefs. The investigators aims to reveals that political attitude largely differs with physiological attributes connected to environmental threats (Oxley et al, 2008).

Measurement of Variables

In the study, there are number of both independent and dependent variables. Independent variables included both threatening and non-threatening images, age, gender, education and income.  In the study, the dependent variable included an additive index of 18 issues item that were based on Standard Wilson Patterson battery (Oxley et al, 2008).

Research Design

The authors of the study used a quasi-experimental design. The study look similar to experimental design but it lacks the key ingredients such as random assignment. The research design was structured to determine whether political affiliation is related to the physiological traits through a series of interviews and experiment.


The subject of the study was recruited by the Bureau of Sociological Research at the University of Nebraska. In the study, a random sample of the resident was selected in Lincoln, Nebraska to participate in the study (Oxley et al, 2008). An initial telephone call and an introductory letter was utilized to pose limited number of item to the respondent with the purpose of obtaining a group of individual with strong political conviction toward whom the intense  and more focused  examination will be directed. A total of 1,310 people were contacted and 608 completed the screening items (Oxley et al, 2008). The subjects that were recruited for this particular project only if they responded yes to all the three questions poses in the screening items. As a result, a total of 143 responded agreed to participate on the physiological experiment in the laboratory. BOSR managed to schedule 48 participants at both sessions for the study.


The instrument used to collect the data was well defined. All subject were in additional to undertaking a physiological assessment, all participant also undertook an extensive computer-based survey questionnaire that include a demographic questions, questions on political and issues of preferences, as well as a series of personality and psychological batteries (Oxley et al, 2008). All socio-demographic and attitude data was collected using self-reporter computer based study administer via Media Lab software (Oxley et al, 2008).  Furthermore, the instrument was clearly developed to include a coding scale that determines the extent in which the respondent agreed or disagreed with the items in the questionnaires.

Data Collection

The data used in the study was collected through the use of questionnaires that determined their political conviction and affiliations in relations to their physiological characteristics. Ethical consideration was put into contemplated in the study in attempt to avoid violation of fundamental rights of the participant. The entire participant was informed of the purpose of the study before recruitment.  The required details of the study were available to the subject hence their performance was based on informed choices. Besides, the participant confidentiality was highly protected.

Data Analysis

The data was analyzed using the SPPS v.14.0. A regression result from the main text was taken form a linear ordinary test square regression analysis.  Though linear regression model are largely associated with social science where correlation design are common, the validity of the estimates produced   by the multiple regression were critically dependent on series of assumptions (Oxley et al, 2008). The analysis of the residual from the regression models ensured that all assumptions were satisfied.

Author’s Conclusion

The author’s revealed that the extent to which individuals are physiologically responsive to threat appear to shows the degree to which they advocate policies that protects the existing social structures from both internal and external threats (Oxley et al, 2008).

Possible threat to Internal, External and Construct Validity

In relation to the internal threat, the appropriateness of the inferences made on the basis of the study is insufficient to warrant the authors’ conclusion (In Zumbo & In Chan, 2014). Although the author’s have significantly strived to use variable that show relationship between the political convention and physiological characteristics, variables used in the study fails to explicitly measure the intended parameters.  The Study has utilized significantly large number of variables that make it complex to achieve a substantive objective of the study (In Zumbo & In Chan, 2014).

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In regard to external validity, though the study significantly strived to recruit a large sample size, only 48 out more than 600 respondents participated in the two waves of the student. Therefore, the sample size appears inadequate to full inform or prove the hypothesis. The confidence level of the study is very low in respect to the magnitude of the investigation (In Zumbo & In Chan, 2014). The sample size used in the study compromise the reader’s confidence in stating whether the study’s results are applicable to other groups. The subjects were asked about the levels of support for 28 policies or political acts and only 18 were identified. However, the identified factors are less likely to be held by individuals concerned with the protecting the interest of participating group.

The study has used an exemplary design that offers the study both content and criterion validity. The appropriateness of the inference made on the basis of the study and measurement is specifically supported by the research design, sample size, data collection and data analysis (In Zumbo & In Chan, 2014). In the physiological assessment, a different way of looking at the eye blink data significantly ignores the adaptation, and presents mean blink amplitude for all seven threatening stimuli, again with the same group division.


In the conclusion, it is evident that though the article indicates presence of minor flaws that affect it validity, the article has significantly achieved its objective. To large extent, it has answered the question raised in the problem statement. The findings have clearly shown a relationship between individual political views and physiological characteristics. If I was to redo the study, little adjustment in the sample size will be effected. I will increase the sample size in order to enhance the confidence level of the study (In Zumbo & In Chan, 2014). The article is useful and makes sense especially since it has established that a relationship exist between different political perception upheld by individuals and physiological traits.  Besides, the analysis is consistent with the outcome reported in the main text thus suggesting that the findings and the inferences of the paper are robust with regard to the estimation and measurement. The study is very essential to both the society and public administrator since it changes the traditional attitudes that assumed attitudes were built form sensible, imaginative reactions to environmental events. The study does not significantly changes the individual way of practice since it robustness and confidence level is still lacking. However, a more compressive study on the field is crucial in order to establish more interconnectedness.

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