How Does an Extremist Brain Work? Everything You Should Know

New research about extremist brains offers new intriguing details that’ll leave you in awe. Apparently, those with extremist views aren’t only identified by their social, religious, or political beliefs. There’s more to consider.

Those views can be recognized in something called the “psychological signature” of aptitudes and cognitive characteristics. What does this mean? And how we could understand it better? The new research comes in help, answering our questions.

Here is what you need to know.

Extremist Brains vs. The World

Leor Zmigrod is a psychologist from the University of Cambridge. She led a team of researchers interested in how extremist brains actually work. Their findings are genuinely intriguing.

The team’s work and discovery

For the new research, the team surveyed 334 people. The participants filled out some questionnaires about their political, religious, personal, and social beliefs.

When the researchers analyzed the results they made a striking discovery. Zmigrod said:

“We found that individuals with extremist attitudes tended to perform poorly on complex mental tasks.”

But, how could this be possible?

Extremist attitudes, such as praising violence against certain groups in society, don’t bring the best in people at all. The participants showed impulsive sensation-seeking tendencies, slower perceptual strategies, and poorer working memory.

Moreover, participants with dogmatic thinking didn’t do well in quick decision-making challenges. They are also more prone to taking ethical risks.

As for those who are politically conservative, things aren’t well either. They showed lowered strategic information processing, an aversion to social risk-taking, and increased response caution in the perceptual decision-making paradigm.

Finally, the participants with liberal views showed a major change. They were more likely to adopt less precise perceptual strategies, showing less caution in cognitive tasks.

Zmigrod added:

“[…] brains hold clues – subtle metaphors, perhaps – for the ideologies we choose to live by and the beliefs we rigidly stick to.”

What is a psychological signature?

A psychological signature could represent what compels us to choose radical or powerful ideological positions in the first instance.

This signature is a new “tool” and should inspire more work in the future.



Georgia Nica
Writing was, and still is my first passion. I love all that cool stuff about science and technology. I'll try my best to bring you the latest news every day.