THE PSYCHOLOGY OF CONSERVATISM AND LIBERALISM – November 2011

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF CONSERVATISM AND LIBERALISM

By Richard Rhoda

 

Liberal vs ConservativeAn interesting article on the psychology of conservatism:

“[People displaying] measurably lower physical sensitivities to sudden noises and threatening visual images were more likely to support foreign aid, liberal immigration policies, pacifism and gun control,” the team wrote in its report, to be published in the journal Science Tomorrow.

“Individuals displaying measurably higher physiological reactions to those same stimuli were more likely to favor defense spending, capital punishment, patriotism and the Iraq War.”

From: Conservatives Have Stronger Startle Reflexes?

This backs up other similar findings, such as those in this Psychology Today piece: In 1969, Berkeley professors Jack and Jeanne Block embarked on a study of childhood personality, asking nursery school teachers to rate children’s temperaments. They weren’t even thinking about political orientation.

Twenty years later, they decided to compare the subjects’ childhood personalities with their political preferences as adults. They found arresting patterns. As kids, liberals had developed close relationships with peers and were rated by their teachers as self-reliant, energetic, impulsive, and resilient. People who were conservative at age 23 had been described by their teachers as easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, and vulnerable at age three.

The reason for the difference, the Blocks hypothesized, was that insecure kids most needed the reassurance of tradition and authority, and they found it in conservative politics.

But lest those with liberal leanings feel too smug, individual conservatives tend to respond to a wider range of ethical parameters than do liberals. The topic is too complex for me to explain briefly here, but this article is well worth reading. I intend to write more about it later.

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