Science and the left wing and the right


These key psychological differences can determine whether you’re liberal or conservative

Some months back, I linked to this article and said I would need to devote more time to it at a later date.  A later date has come.  It lists fifteen physiological and psychological differences between liberals and conservatives.  Some interest me more than others.  Let me begin with a fairly bare-bones presentation of the list.

  1. Being scared can make you more conservative.
    n
  2. A conservative brain is more active in certain areas than a liberal one.
    n
    “Brain scans show that people who self-identify as conservative have larger and more active right amygdalas, an area of the brain that’s associated with expressing and processing fear. This aligns with the idea that feeling afraid makes people lean more to the right.”
    n
    I wonder what the left amygdala does.  Questions also rise of whether they’re more afraid because this organ is larger, or instead the organ is larger because they’ve consistently chosen to be afraid.
    n
  3. On the other hand, feeling safe and endowed with strength might make you lean a little more liberal than you otherwise would.
    n
    Groundbreaking research that Yale psychologists published in 2017 revealed that helping people imagine they’re completely safe from harm can make them (temporarily) hold more liberal views on social issues.
    n
    “The authors of that study said their results suggest that socially conservative views are driven, at least in part, by people’s need to feel safe and secure.“That finding didn’t hold true for people with economically conservative views, though.”
    n
  4. Liberals are less squeamish about looking at yucky stuff like vomit, feces, and blood.
    n
    Related:  Disgusting smells provoke conservatism.
    n
  5. Conservatives tend to display more ordered thinking patterns, whereas liberals have more “aha” moments.
    n
    “Lead study author Carola Salvi said the results were consistent with what scientists already knew about the brains of people with different political leanings.
    n
    ‘Conservatives have more structured and persistent cognitive styles,’ she said in a statement.”
    n
  6. Liberals tend to follow the wandering gaze of others more often, while conservative eyes stay more focused on the original subject they’re looking at.
    n
  7. Holding conservative views seems to make people more resistant to change and help them explain inequality.
    n
    “‘People embrace political conservatism (at least in part) because it serves to reduce fear, anxiety, and uncertainty; to avoid change, disruption, and ambiguity; and to explain, order, and justify inequality among groups and individuals,’ the researchers said.”
    n
  8. Liberal and conservative tastes in music and art are different, too.
    n
    “Studies from the 1980s showed that conservatives preferred more simple paintings, familiar music, and unambiguous texts and poems, while liberals enjoyed more cubist and abstract art.”
    n
  9. Liberals are more likely to describe themselves as compassionate and optimistic, while conservatives are more likely to say they’re people of honor and religion.
    n
  10. Conservatives believe they have more self-control.
    n
  11. Liberals and conservatives extend feelings of compassion to different people.
    n
    Related:  Hormone makes dogs “man’s best friend” (or does it?).
    n
  12. Conservatives tend to report feeling greater meaning and a sense of purpose in life than liberals do.
    n
    “‘Finding meaning in life is related to the sense or feeling that things are the way they should be, and that there is a sense of order,’ study author David Newman, a doctoral candidate at USC Dornsife’s Mind and Society Center, said when his study was released.‘If life feels chaotic, then that would likely dampen your sense that life is meaningful.’
    n
    “The study complied data on thousands of people in 16 different countries around the world over four decades, and found that conservatives, overall, reported feeling greater meaning and purpose in life.“The study also found greater satisfaction in life was related more closely to social conservatism, rather than economically conservative views.”
    n
  13. Research also suggests shared values likely matter more than shared politics when it comes to who we vote for.
    n
    In short, personality trumps policy.
    n
  14. One British study found that voters who were aggressive, angry kids were more likely to distrust the government and lean liberal as adults.
    n
  15. Both conservatives and liberals think they’re always being fair.
    n
    “However, the findings suggested that while liberals and conversations may both think they are applying their judgment equally, they each tend to judge members of their own ideology more favorably than others.”
    n

Items (3) and (12) report differences between social and economic conservatives.

Items (1), (2), and (3) all deal with the fact that conservatives feel insecure.

I don’t want to view conservatives as The Problem.  Some of the items are suggestive of A Problem that may exist among liberals, also.  But if I am going to encourage peace of mind; if peace of mind is to become widespread; we must deal with the folk who are in the grips of fear and anger, the folk most fear and anger in society come from, the folk who constantly seek to stir up fear and anger; indeed, the folk who most hate speech comes from.

On the one hand, unless things change, such folk can never know peace of mind.  Enigmatically, item (12) indicates that those same folk already report a strong sense of meaning and purpose in life, which sounds a lot like the same thing.

As to items (7) and (12), I have read before that conservatism allows people to “rationalize” inequalities of wealth, whereas liberals specifically agonize over those same inequalities and for that reason lack a sense of meaning in life.

I have no problem with inequalities of wealth.

I accept What Is.

If that is the solution to the liberals’ problem, it may be the solution for the conservatives’ problem also.

Several of the items suggest that conservatives have a greater emotional need for certainty, than liberals.  This may derive from a dis-acceptance of What Is; the Is/Ought Dilemma.

Is that what gives rise to conservatives’ insecurity?

I do not know.  I do know that diligent attention to What Is, the things I can see, touch and feel here and now, gives me certainty enough that I need not be certain of anything else.

I need empathy for those who don’t.

2 thoughts on “Science and the left wing and the right

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.