?

Log in

No account? Create an account
devil duck

How we feel about people with different politics

Followed links from this post to this WikiPedia page to this 2012 research paper, which reports on a study in which self-described liberals, moderates, and conservatives were asked to answer a series of moral questions as themselves, as "a typical liberal", and as "a typical conservative". The questions are premised on the "moral foundations theory" that people make intuitive moral decisions based on a handful of fundamental principles (e.g. Care vs. Harm, Authority vs. Subversion), but different people weight those principles differently. The results are fascinating and sobering:


  • Participants of all stripes agreed that liberals are more concerned with "individual-focused" principles such as Care/Harm and Fairness/Cheating, while conservatives are more concerned with "group-focused" principles such as Loyalty/Betrayal, Authority/Subversion, and Sanctity/Degradation. The perceived dichotomy appears to be true -- at least, people's answers "as themselves" match their self-reported political leanings in this way.

  • Participants of all stripes exaggerated these differences between liberals and conservatives, overestimating both their own group's and the "opposite" group's adherence to the above dichotomy.

  • Participants of different political leanings had different degrees of accuracy:

    • Conservatives were most accurate in describing how people of various stripes felt about "individual-focused" principles, and liberals least accurate. The latter overestimated how important these principles actually were to liberals, and underestimated how important they were to conservatives.

    • Moderates were most accurate in describing how people of various stripes felt about "group-focused" principles, and liberals least accurate. The latter overestimated how important these principles actually were to conservatives, and underestimated how important they were to liberals.

    • Liberals perceived more-dramatic differences between liberals and conservatives than moderates or conservatives did, which in turn was more dramatic than reality.

The lesson for Liberals Like Me (tm): yes, conservatives really do think differently, but by and large they're neither as heartless nor as authoritarian as you think they are. Your fellow liberals aren't quite as individualistic as you think they are. And conservatives might understand you better than you understand them.

ETA: Of course, all of that applies to conservative people, not elected officials (since the study was based on data from ordinary people, not elected officials). Elected officials who are Republican first and conservative second probably are just as spiteful, destructive, heartless, and authoritarian as you think they are. This study doesn't address them.
Tags:

Comments