In the comments of my “Why doesn’t God let me have as much sex as I want?” post, Alte cited some interesting research on the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives. (She’s collected her comments here.) I’ve read her two linked articles. To sum up
- Liberals are more open minded and creative.
- Conservatives are more anxious and tend to fixate on things that disgust or threaten us. Our discomfort with uncertainty leads us to prefer rigid social structures.
- Conservatives are more conscious of in-group/out-group distinctions.
- Liberals are more ambidextrous. In conservatives, the two hemispheres of the brain interact less. It has been suggested that this is what makes conservatives less creative. Alte points out that the level of inter-hemispheral interaction also distinguishes male and female brains, meaning that conservatives have (at least in this sense) more masculine brains.
There is a real irony in the modern condition. “Openness to new ideas” and “tolerance” lead my peers to embrace liberal democracy, i.e. to accept the dogmas of the established regime and dismiss all other forms of social organization as illegitimate. On the other hand, my feeble-minded desire to submit and conform leads me to conservatism even though that sets me against my whole nation. This reflects the deeper ironies of an establishment that is hostile to authority and a communal consensus that favors individual expression at the expense of social cohesion.
Alte’s own speculations:
- Liberals are more physiologically more androgynous, making the value of distinct gender roles less apparent to them.
- Conservatives’ “binary” thinking leads them to rely more completely on logic. They are less interested than liberals to rhetorical demonstrations of compassion. That is, they only care whether the reasoning is valid, not whether it comes off sounding nice.
Since Traditional Christianity‘s new format doesn’t allow comments, I’ll throw out the question for discussion here: how well do these purported correlations (the psychologists’ or Alte’s) match your personal experience? Are your liberal friends girly men? Are your conservative friends more consistent handed? Can you think of any other correlations that might hold up better?