Sunday, September 21, 2008

Conservatives As Cowards

The news reports a new scientific study showing that conservatives startle easier than liberals. This study was by John Hibbing, in the Political Science Department at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and others. Michael Greinecker has a more complete citation.

This is not an isolated study. Here's the abstract of another:
"Political scientists and psychologists have noted that, on average, conservatives show more structured and persistent cognitive styles, whereas liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty. We tested the hypothesis that these profiles relate to differences in general neurocognitive functioning using event-related potentials, and found that greater liberalism was associated with stronger conflict-related anterior cingulate activity, suggesting greater neurocognitive sensitivity to cues for altering a habitual response pattern." -- David M. Amodio, John T. Jost, Sarah L. Master, and Cindy M. Lee (2007) "Neurocognitive Correlates of Liberalism and Conservatism" Nature Neuroscience, published online 9 September
And another:
"Analyzing political conservatism as motivated social cognition integrates theories of personality (authoritarianism, dogmatism—intolerance of ambiguity), epistemic and existential needs (for closure, regulatory focus, terror management), and ideological rationalization (social dominance, system justification). A meta-analysis (88 samples, 12 countries, 22,818 cases)confirms that several psychological variables predict political conservatism: death anxiety (weighted mean r = .50); system instability (.47); dogmatism—intolerance of ambiguity (.34); openness to experience (—.32); uncertainty tolerance (—.27); needs for order, structure, and closure (.26); integrative complexity (—.20); fear of threat and loss (.18); and self-esteem (—.09). The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally to manage uncertainty and threat." -- John J. Jost, Jack Glaser, Arie W. Kruglanski, and Frank J. Sulloway (2003) "Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition", Psychological Bulletin, V. 129, N. 3: 339-375


Gabriel M said...

Too bad this tells us nothing about the various groups' theories and models of markets, government, political action, etc.

I am sure one could take this research (correlations, how insightful!) and come up with a less than flattering adjective for "liberals" too...

Anonymous said...

Hey I think they should run the same tests on neoclassicals. They live in fear of novelty.

Robert Vienneau said...

Gabriel cannot make me angry today, after he recently cites partisans of the English side of the CCC. The Colin Rogers' paper Gabriel cites seems related to one he published in the Cambridge Journal of Economics a couple years ago.