Political Ideology Linked to Food Choices

The way you vote may reflect the way you eat. Liberals prefer thin-crust pizza, hard to pronounce pastas, such as gnocchi and fusilli, and a glass of wine with dinner, while conservatives enjoy deep-dish pizza, McDonald's French fries and a can of coke with their meal.

A new study by Hunch.com — a site that makes recommendations based on preferences, ranging from which car you should drive to which vacation or college choice is best for you — suggests your political views say a lot about the food choices a person makes.

However, the web-based survey is not as scientific as truly objective polls because, among other limitations, it was not based on a representative sample of the population.

Hunch used 80 million answers to questions that it asked its 700,000 members, in order to predict particular demographics, personality and other characteristics based on their food choices. They then compared all that against the political views they associate themselves with. Overall, 43 percent of participants said they tended to support liberal politicians, 17 percent indicated they supported conservative politicians, and 23 percent said they were middle of the road. [Read: Conservatives Happier Than Liberals]

Some other findings from the survey include:

  • Liberals are 28 percent more likely than conservatives to eat fresh fruit daily, and 17 percent more likely to eat toast or a bagel in the morning, while conservatives are 20 percent more likely to skip breakfast.
  • Ten percent of liberals surveyed indicated they are vegetarians, compared with 3 percent of conservatives.
  • Liberals are 28 percent more likely than conservatives to enjoy beer, with 60 percent of liberals indicating they like beer.
  • The majority of both liberals and conservatives agreed there's a significant difference between organic and processed food.

Although there's a correlation between views and food choices, the study doesn’t say that one influences the other, as demographics could also play a role.

And this isn't the first study to show behavioral and other differences between conservatives and liberals. For instance, a study published in 2008 in the journal Political Psychology revealed a person's office or bedroom holds telltale signs of whether that person is a conservative or a liberal. For instance, while political conservatives tend to keep a tidy, organized office, political liberals favor colorful, more stylish but cluttered spaces.

If a cluttered or tidy office doesn't out a person's political viewpoint, check out their gaze. Turns out, liberals are more likely than conservatives to follow other people's eye movements, according to research published in the journal Attention, Perception & Psychophysics.

Such political ideology seems to run deep, with another study published in the April 7, 2011 issue of the journal Current Biology, finding participants who indicated a liberal ideology tending to have a larger anterior cingulated cortex, a brain region linked to monitoring uncertainty, while conservatives showed a larger amygdala, an area linked with greater sensitivity to fear and disgust.

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Samantha Murphy
Samantha Murphy was a contributor to Live Science, covering the tech industry. She holds a degree in journalism and cinema studies from New York University.