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Scientists Are Beginning to Figure Out Why Conservatives Are…Conservative

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posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 06:31 PM

Behavioral and Brain Sciences employs a rather unique practice called "Open Peer Commentary": An article of major significance is published, a large number of fellow scholars comment on it, and then the original author responds to all of them. The approach has many virtues, one of which being that it lets you see where a community of scholars and thinkers stand with respect to a controversial or provocative scientific idea. And in the latest issue of the journal, this process reveals the following conclusion: A large body of political scientists and political psychologists now concur that liberals and conservatives disagree about politics in part because they are different people at the level of personality, psychology, and even traits like physiology and genetics.

That's a big deal. It challenges everything that we thought we knew about politics—upending the idea that we get our beliefs solely from our upbringing, from our friends and families, from our personal economic interests, and calling into question the notion that in politics, we can really change (most of us, anyway).

John Hibbing of the University of Nebraska and his colleagues are arguing that conservatives have a "negativity bias." Tested through various experiments including eye trackers, the researchers measured involuntary responses to different images. One finding was that conservatives responded much more rapidly to threatening stimuli like pictures of spiders or images of wounds.

John Hibbing deduced that the threat oriented biology seemed well suited for the conservative ideology. It's major facets being; strong military, tough law enforcement, resistance to immigration and availability of firearms.

26 different scholars have commented on the findings and 23 have accepted the general idea of "conservative negativity bias"

What do you think of these findings?

Additional research papers:

Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition

Differences in negativity bias underline variations in political ideology

Abstract: Disputes between those holding differing political views are ubiquitous and deep-seated, and they often follow common,
recognizable lines. The supporters of tradition and stability, sometimes referred to as conservatives, do battle with the supporters of
innovation and reform, sometimes referred to as liberals. Understanding the correlates of those distinct political orientations is
probably a prerequisite for managing political disputes, which are a source of social conflict that can lead to frustration and even
bloodshed. A rapidly growing body of empirical evidence documents a multitude of ways in which liberals and conservatives differ
from each other in purviews of life with little direct connection to politics, from tastes in art to desire for closure and from disgust
sensitivity to the tendency to pursue new information, but the central theme of the differences is a matter of debate. In this article,
we argue that one organizing element of the many differences between liberals and conservatives is the nature of their physiological
and psychological responses to features of the environment that are negative. Compared with liberals, conservatives tend to register
greater physiological responses to such stimuli and also to devote more psychological resources to them. Operating from this point of
departure, we suggest approaches for refining understanding of the broad relationship between political views and response to the
negative. We conclude with a discussion of normative implications, stressing that identifying differences across ideological groups is
not tantamount to declaring one ideology superior to another.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 06:42 PM
Might be a bit true, i used to be a full on anarchist, then getting older and having children i see myself with alot more conservative leaning values/opinions. Having daughters do bring new fears to my life, nothing major but i see society in a different light.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 06:56 PM
a reply to: ATSmediaPRO

I always find it interesting when someone makes a determination based on a preconceived notion. This chart taken from Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition shows the number of participants and samples.

17,081 participants and 59 samples to make the case of a population of 350 million. They should have had a large base in which to study, this is such a tiny segment. I love the fact it is written by two authors from Berkeley, one from Stanford, and one from University of Maryland. Schools in no way slanted.

Where is the analysis of liberals to determine why liberals are the way they? I that would make good reading as well.

And which form of conservatism are they talking about? You realize there are several forms.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 07:19 PM
Without reading anything other than the title... I'd venture dropped or O2 deprivation as an infant?

Now to read the OP and enlighten my middle of the road to left of Marx butt.

Edit: and now that I read it, I would say I agree... My family was/is as right wing as they come... well, really Eisenhower republicans, which are vastly different from the gop of today (add brain cells)... but I always wondered why I was so different and wondered if I was adopted or my mom hooked up with a Marxist.
edit on 7/16/2014 by Baddogma because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 07:22 PM
a reply to: ATSmediaPRO

1. Haven't read the research . . . except for what's on the OP etc.

2. imho, the average liberal in my experience and on ATS . . . is brazenly and dangerously out of touch with reality so much as to be living in lala land . . . almost exclusively in the more serious cases. i.e. their degree of being tuned-in to the more substantive, foundational and more serious issue of life is so abysmal that I don't think their

CONCEPTS of negative and positive bear much congruence with reality.

3. I read the above and I think . . . what a stark statement I've written. Then I review the representative and more vocal liberals I know . . . and it doesn't seem . . . almost . . . stark enough.

4. Just today a friend of mine was struggling to get colostomy bags for her sister . . . a recent thing. An absurd run around with insurance etc. etc. etc. Finally, she is on the phone with the supplying company. Note, this is a fairly serious daily need! . . . With a newly done colostomy . . . The patient and family are in Oklahoma City. The patient's sister on the phone to the supplier company asks if the shipment was sent from their Dallas warehouse--the closest one. "Uhhhh no. The shipping clerk looked on a map and figured our Northern California warehouse was closer."

4.1 The call was with . . . a Northern Cal person--most likely a flaming liberal. I've run into this with increasing and increasingly alarming frequency.

4.2 Yeah, I know. We have some real idiots in conservative land, too. But I've been forced to think that more of them at least know how to tie their shoelaces and shoot an intruder.

4.3 I wish I was joking. But this is what the research has fostered in my noggin related thereto. Liberals have no clue about negative and positive; right vs wrong; up vs down; and in terms of left vs right--they seem to think that 99% of the world is "rightly" left and the other 1% on the right are all the psychotics hypnotized by Rush Limbaugh.

4.4 I still don't understand how the liberal clueless ones who claim there is NO right or wrong can be sooooooo utterly dogmatically convinced that their screwed up construction on reality is totally 100% and only "right."

5. Conservatives probably have a much keener and more reality based assessment of the structure of reality and the threats involved.

6. Liberals have been depending on Mummy dearest and Uncle Sam for Salvation and everything coming up roses and full of cotton candy and "free" love for many decades.

7. They have a greatly stunted if not diminished and/or atrophied notion of personal responsibility. It's always someone else's fault over THERE. And the nanny state is supposed to fix those idiots over THERE and the the liberals can go on continuing to ignore personal responsibilities and their consequences . . . at typically, conservatives' expense.

8. Conservatives have been more typically taught personal responsibility and the costs and consequences related thereto from toddler stage. We have had it drummed into us relentlessly that sowing negative seed brings a negative harvest.

9. LIberals still don't seem to believe that. And when the inevitable negative harvest comes in, the wails for Uncle Sam to fix it go out immediately.

10. I haven't read anything about the study that indicates whether they have tried to assess which comes first, the chicken or the egg. Do conservative stances over decades result in brain changes--as they must--as would liberal stances over decades. And what are the implications of that.

11. Or are they really trying to pretend that we come out of the womb liberal or conservative?

12. Personally, I'm wary of anything these days that purports to come from "consensus" of globalist infected academia.

+3 more 
posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 07:27 PM
I read this earlier...

Basically, it says that conservative people respond to fear/anger more so than liberal minded people. They hypothesize that this is a hold over from the Pleistocene era where being always "on guard" and defensive and holding to traditional, familiar values ensured survival.

Well, it's 2014...We don't have to hide in caves with sharp pointy sticks to stave off the monsters anymore...

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 07:28 PM
a reply to: ATSmediaPRO

And a sad thing about these findings is that those who have this identified nature, will, as a matter of course, object and feel threatened by the findings. This also leads to another sad realization.

Recently there was a thread on ATS, (and also on other places, about the growing awareness of what has been termed "The Enlightenment Project"
This is about the belief which sprung from the Enlightenment period which has been a paramount belief of liberal philosophy since then. This is the belief that all that needs to be done is to educate people. Place the information in front of them and eventually as each individual uses his or her rationality, all people will respond in the same manner.

This belief is also being proved false by these new findings. The same information does not mean the same thing to all people. Those with different bias, a normal thing, will respond differently to the same information. Hopefully, liberals and conservatives alike will use this information to understand themselves and those whom they have considered political opponents in a different light. Opps, what might be considered my liberal bias is showing. Guess I might have to give that up.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 07:33 PM
a reply to: BO XIAN

imho, the average liberal in my experience and on ATS . . . is brazenly and dangerously out of touch with reality so much as to be living in lala land

Says the Bible literalist... heh... chiding you, gently, sir, as I really do respect many aspects of religion... the dogma? not so much... but really, all we have are generalizations and tendencies built from our own experiences.

I have found that the Right Wingers and Leftists are both pretty insane, in my insane opinion. Extremes that don't allow for exceptions and compromise are scary. But the uncompromising, ignorant Lefties are much nicer and less likely to get into your business... most of the time. They do tend toward ridiculous, wimpy political correctness, though.

But we are far more alike than different... and we should remember that more often.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 07:36 PM
what does it matter what makes them conservative. last i checked it their right to think that way.
what are they doing profiling getting ready to have a base for a diagnosis when the thought police say you can't be a conservative, just a liberal.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 07:39 PM
Gee, I guess we can abandon the whole "everybody's equal" idea.

Although to be honest this "discovery" is just as lame. Have they discovered a libertarian gene, or a green party bias? How about a marxist personality? Or does their findings only fit a two party system?

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 07:44 PM
Like with most things in life, any direction towards an extreme can be 'dangerous' - including politics.
That said, conservatism is not an extreme idea and therefore studying as it is an extreme is a ridiculous waste of time.

Side note - the photo in the OP staring us in the face is remarkably reminiscent of Clockwork Orange

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 07:45 PM
This actually makes sense to me. Conservatives are always on guard versus liberal hypocrisy and attacks on their pocketbooks, religion and family,whereas liberals aren't negatively impacted by other liberals as they consider their aberrant behavior 'normal'.

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 08:02 PM
How do "scientists" explain the phenomenon of people living and voting in the highest crime areas and high poverty areas historically voting Democrat ?

Is that the ancient idea of self-compartmentalization ?

The last several decades have proven something I think.

It seems the Democrats have failed to solve the crime/poverty problems in those very districts. In fact the problem gets progressively worse.


posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 08:16 PM
a reply to: filosophia

Thanks for that. Gave you a star. Well said. But it's fun to watch the two party people "voting" and making a "difference"!

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 08:19 PM
a reply to: ATSmediaPRO

I seem to remember waaayyyy back in... Oh... (Old Fart moment coming up) We were in Germany and it was right after 9-11 (wheeze) so it must have been 2001 or 2002 (creak) and they did a story about a "scientific study" that said that conservatives couldn't determine long term danger very well sooo... I think that what we have is the results of psychological studies disseminated through a liberally biased media that has maintained that bias for (at least) better than a decade now.

edit on 16-7-2014 by redhorse because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 08:19 PM
What's that say when society can't deal w you being a conservative so much that they have to do a study so they can say something's wrong w you.

Another division tactic

My god I don't want to live on this planet anymore

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 08:28 PM
What's interesting is that this is a study of physiological differences, so it should be indisputable, yet people still want to dispute it (and attack the messenger, how typical).

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 08:29 PM

originally posted by: ManBehindTheMask
What's that say when society can't deal w you being a conservative so much that they have to do a study so they can say something's wrong w you.

Another division tactic

My god I don't want to live on this planet anymore

I wish somebody would do a study on how conservatives became such drama queens. Everything is a crisis, a scandal, a grab, an attack, etc.
edit on 2014-7-16 by theantediluvian because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 08:29 PM

I'm a big fan of the soft sciences (I say it lovingly, as opposed to the hard sciences of the natural world...) but I tend to have a harsher reaction to media sources reporting on journal research papers... I think at best the researchers can say that the trait of being a conservative is correlated to/with the negativity bias seen. Correlation does not indicate causation, and I will say that many more times until I am blue in the face.

I'll admit that I didn't read the article fully, but the quotes seemed too provocative not to state this... (and I am in no way a conservative.) ATS has a skeptical community, full of people who seem to be able to call BS when they see BS, so why don't we just settle down over the politics and realize that although this might be true, there could be a host of other potential causes or factors at play. Perhaps negativity bias causes conservatism, perhaps conservatism causes negativity bias, or perhaps a third unknown variable related to one of the other variables is involved... Psychology has too many variables for my taste... (Although it's the best we've got for what it does...)


posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 08:32 PM
On the other hand,

“There’s great overlap between religious beliefs and political orientations,” says one of the study authors, Jordan Peterson of University of Toronto’s department of psychology. “We found that religious individuals tend to be more conservative and spiritual people tend to be more liberal.

“Inducing a spiritual experience through a guided meditation exercise led both liberals and conservatives to endorse more liberal political attitudes.”

After meditation, conservatives lean left

"Balance is an integral part of our shared reality and these studies highlight the importance of trying things outside of one's comfort zone. We cannot integrate unfamiliar values into our lives by consistently remaining on one side - whether religious or spiritual, or conservative or liberal. By encouraging others to regularly try new things perhaps we can help regain balance in our world."

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