Nationalism and patriotism both entail positive evaluations of one's nation. However, the former inherently involves derogation of other nations, whereas the latter is independent of comparisons with other nations. We used voxel-based morphometry and psychological measures and determined nationalism and patriotism's association with gray matter density (rGMD) and their cognitive nature in healthy individuals (433 men and 344 women; age, 20.7 ± 1.9 years) using whole-brain multiple regression analyses and post hoc analyses. We found higher nationalism associated with greater rGMD in (a) areas of the posterior cingulate cortex and greater rGMD in (b) the orbitofrontal cortex, and smaller rGMD in (c) the right amygdala area. Furthermore, we found higher patriotism associated with smaller rGMD in the (d) rostrolateral prefrontal cortex. Post hoc analyses revealed the mean rGMD of the cluster (a) associated with compassion, that of (b) associated with feeling of superiority, that of (c) associated with suicide ideation, and that of (d) associated with quality of life. These results indicate that individual nationalism may be mediated by neurocognitive mechanisms in social-related areas and limbic neural mechanisms, whereas patriotism may be mediated by neurocognitive mechanisms in areas related to well-being.
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