Monday, November 03, 2008

"So you see, science tells us that liberals are good and conservatives are bad. And you can't argue with it. It's science."

Reason's Ron Bailey takes note of this report in Science Daily on the research of New Hampshire University psychologist John Mayer on the personality traits that influence our political preferences. According to Mayer,


* View social inequities and preferred groups as unjust and requiring reform.
* Prefer atheists, tattoos, foreign films and poetry.
* Endorse gay unions, welfare, universal health care, feminism and environmentalism.
* Exhibit creativity, which entails the capacity to see solutions to problems, and empathy toward others.
* Tolerate complexity and ambiguity.
* Are influenced by their work as judges, social workers, professors and other careers for which an appreciation of opposing points of view is required.


* Willing to defend current social inequities and preferred groups as justifiable or necessary.
* Prefer prayer, religious people and SUVs.
* Endorse the U.S. government, the military, the state they live in, big corporations and most Americans.
* Are more likely to be a first-born, who identify more with their parents, predisposing them to a greater investment in authority and a preference for conservatism.
* Have a fear of death, reflecting an enhanced need for security.
* Are conscientious – the ability to exert personal self-control to the effect of meeting one’s own and others’ demands, and maintaining personal coherence.
* Need simplicity, clarity and certainty.

It's utter BS of course, but as Ron Bailey notes, it's funny how psychologists are guilty of utilizing the same simplicity, clarity, and certainty in their research. Or maybe not so funny, given how this is supposed to be scientific research. This is perhaps the problem- liberal biases aside- from bringing science to something as unscientific as politics. Party politics may be bi-polar, but individual's political philosophies certainly aren't.

Besides the obvious stereotypes (God, atheists, poetry, ect.), the overarching point seems to be that conservatives are authoritarian in nature while liberals are tolerant and open-minded, which seems to be more stereotype than science. Such simplicity hardly reflects the liberal zest for government regulation and nanny state laws, nor does it reflect the limited government wing of government-off-my-back conservatism.


Anonymous rose said...

Wouldn't religious people fear death less than atheists?

Maybe it's my own personal bias, but to me the most commonly repeated pattern I see is that liberals are idealists and conservatives are realists.

I you can apply that to social policy as well as foreign. Conservatives view inequality as unfortunate, but impossible to fully rectify. Libs view inequality as unacceptable and in need of fixing regardless of how impossible it has proven historically.

Foreign policy wise, conservatives believe in good guys and bad guys. And they believe bad guys cannot be transformed into good guys and therefore need to be dealt w/ through force. Libs like to believe that there's good guys and confused guys and if we better understand and communicate with the confused guys we can make things better.

I dunno, maybe just a stereotype, maybe bad examples, but i see realism and idealism tend to be pretty consistent differntiators.

12:00 PM  

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