Frank Sulloway, a researcher at the Institute of Personality and Social Research, at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the study, said results "provided an elegant demonstration that individual differences on a conservative-liberal dimension are strongly related to brain activity."What does this mean? Very simply that liberals actually use their brains more - this is that little known activity called THINKING! Some people (especially conservatives) have heard rumors of such activity but haven't experienced much of it themselves.
Analyzing the data, Sulloway said liberals were 4.9 times more likely than conservatives to show activity in the brain circuits that deal with conflicts and were 2.2 times more likely to score in the top half of the distribution for accuracy.
It doesn't say if this is genetic, that our brains are hard wired for a particular way of thinking. The study really isn't broad enough for that but my guess is it would be 50/50. This is the usual percentages researchers in nurture/nature studies cite. This is because they don't really know except that both seem to have very large influences.
My guess is that this type of mindset is learned and is based on two very different perspectives. For the liberals it's all about curiosity, for the conservatives it's all about fear. How does one get their particular perspective that shapes how their brains function? That brings us back to the nurture/nature argument. In my opinion nurture vs nature is all over the board, some people seem to be highly influenced by how they were raised while others seem to be completely untouched by it and go their own way, and still others seem a nice blend of both. In my case I've pretty much always been curious and still am. I read science and history books for fun, after all, just to learn something new. Conservatives seem to be more concerned with being safe than in learning new things. In fact, one very strong image I have of the religious conservative is they want to keep their children away from knowledge because it's dangerous.
They'd be right, it is dangerous, probably THE most dangerous thing around, but that just makes it more interesting.