Broad generalizations about people of certain political views are always good for an entertaining wrangle…so here’s a provocative article on The Ideological Animal:
- Liberals are messier than conservatives. Their rooms have more clutter, more color. Conservatives’ rooms are better organized, more brightly lit, and more conventional. Liberals have more books and their books are on a greater variety of topics.
- Compared to liberals, conservatives are less tolerant of ambiguity, a trait researchers say is exemplified when George Bush says things like, “Look, my job isn’t to try to nuance. My job is to tell people what I think,” and “I’m the decider.”
- Conservatives have a greater fear of death.
- Liberals are higher on openness, which includes intellectual curiosity, excitement-seeking, novelty, creativity for its own sake, and a craving for stimulation like travel, color, art, music, and literature.
- Conservatives are higher on conscientiousness, which includes neatness, rule-following, duty, and orderliness.
- Conservatives have a greater need to reach a decision quickly and stick to it.
- When people are prompted to think about death–a state of mind psychologists call mortality salience–they actually become more conservative.
- Studies show that when people are prompted to think about 9/11, their support for President Bush goes up.
- Conservatives are more likely to have been insecure as kids, whereas liberals are more likely to have been confident as kids.
It begins with some comments about 9/11 Republicans, people who were driven rapidly to the Republican party by fear, but it does admit that there’s more to it than that.
What travel and
education have in common is that they make the differences
between people seem less threatening. “You become less
bothered by the idea that there is uncertainty in the world,”
That’s why the more educated people are, the more
liberal they become–but only to a point. Once people begin
pursuing certain types of graduate degrees, the curve
flattens. Business students, for instance, become more conservative in their views toward minorities. As they become
more established, doctors and lawyers tend to protect their
economic interests by moving to the right. The findings
demonstrate that conservative conversions are fueled not
only by fear, but by other factors as well. And if the November election was any indicator, the pendulum that swung
so forcefully to the right after 9/11 may be swinging back.