The La Times reports that a recent study concludes that outlook - conservative or liberal - is hardwired into your DNA. The study based its research on the relationship between fear (measured in reaction to photographs) and liberal attitudes about gun control, foreign aid, immigration, and pacificism, versus conservative attitudes about defense spending, capital punishment, patriotism and the Iraq war. The study determined that conservatives are three times more fearful than liberals.
Positive reaction to the study: "What is revolutionary about this paper is that it shows the path from genes to physiology to behavior," said James H. Fowler, a political science professor at UC San Diego who was not involved in the research.
Negative reaction to the study: 'Jon A. Krosnick, a political science professor at Stanford University, said it was impossible to draw any conclusions from a study with so few people all drawn from a small Midwestern town ..."I don't believe any of this," he said. "The people who are most scared are less in favor of gun control. Why wouldn't they be more in favor? Because they need guns to fight the bad guys? You can make up a story in either direction."'
UPDATE: The Washington Post prefers to refer to the reaction to the photos as a "startle response" rather than "fear," which makes more sense to me. Their headline is: "Startle Response Linked to Politics - More Sensitive May Mean More Conservative, Study Finds"