Sex, Power, and Partisanship: How Evolutionary Science Makes Sense of Our Political Divide - Hector A. Garcia 2019
Differences in Facial Expressions between Liberals and Conservatives
Is Conservatism an Extreme form of The Male Brain?
While to date there is a dearth of research examining possible links between partisanship and decoding facial expressions, some research finds that conservatives are less facially expressive than liberals. For example, when people make facial expressions, their facial muscles contract and emit electrical current. Researchers have been able to quantify facial expressivity by attaching muscle sensors to subjects’ faces and measuring facial electrical activity, a technique known as electromyography (EMG). In one study, researchers gathered data on subjects’ political orientations, hooked up their faces to EMG sensors, presented them with a series of negative and positive images, and then measured their facial responses. Facial expressivity was high in women, regardless of political orientation, and overall women were more emotionally expressive than men. Liberal men, the researchers found, were as facially expressive as women. What stood out in this study was that the faces of male conservatives, on the other hand, were essentially nonreactive.30 In another study, researchers measured expressivity, using the “Berkeley Expressivity Questionnaire,” which includes items such as, “Whenever I am feeling positive emotions people can see exactly what I am feeling” and “What I'm feeling is written all over my face.” Similar to the EMG studies, the researchers found that Democrats scored higher than Republicans.31