20 August 2003

Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition

According to a research study performed by the American Psychological Association, the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality. Some other common psychological factors linked to conservatism include:
  • Fear and aggression
  • Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
  • Uncertainty avoidance
  • Need for cognitive closure
  • Terror management


Of all idiots, the educated ones are the worst and most dangerous. Blind hate and ideologically induced blindness only multiply their effect. Nazi racial laws were also based on "scientific research". The same goes for soviet Lysenko's claim. In communist countries, the "Scientific Communism" was taught for decades.I can see the same frame of mind at work here.
I do not believe "Of all idiots, the educated ones are the worst and most dangerous." It has been my experience that the closed mind is the most dangerous. And as a passing observation I have seen a few educated idiots, but in my expierence idiots are most often uneducated.
I would say, to any conservatives who take issue with the findings presented in the paper, Are any of these things factually incorrect? Can you refute any one of them? Would you be so shaken by the publication of this paper if everything in it were a flat out lie? Are you unnerved because it is so dead on accurate? At the base of it, what do conservatives have to offer American society, or any society for that matter? What rational reason is there to vote conservative?
The research on political conservatism as motivated social cognition has been accepted for publication by the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Sociological Association. Furthermore, contributer John T. Jost (who holds a PhD from Yale) is one of the most respected Professors of Organizational Behavior in the nation. If you are a political conservative and disagree with the findings, then don't refute with rhetoric, it only weakens your case.
The results of this study are no sruprise, nor should they be for anyone who has considered the subject previously.

Not too many years ago I spent some time thinking about why right-wing hate radio is so popular and wide-spread. The comclusion I arrived at was that right-wingers generally have a low threshold for uncertainty - they need constant ratification of the correctness of their views and experience great stress when confronted with ideas that are at odds with their own. They will seek out input that supports their worldview (talk radio), and will (pathologically?) avoid input that condraticts their worldview. They won't - can't - listen to liberal talk shows because they can't cope with the insecurity of having to consider that their worldview may be inaccurate.

Liberals, on the other hand, generally aren't afflicted with such basic insecurities. Liberals are willing to listen to a wide variety of opinions - even idiot liars like Rush, Hugh Hewitt, Roger Hedgcock, etc.

Thus, rate-wing ra-hate-io has an inherent commercial advantage - a captive base of addicted, validation-seeking neurotics (conservatives), as well as curious and bemused normal people (libearals), whereas liberal talk shows are limitied to only the non-neurotic portion of the listening audience, who aren't driven to seek validation of their views all day every day.
I've been trying to understand why conservatives think the way they do for years. Suddenly I stumbled upon "Political Conservatism as a Motivated Social Cognition" and realized that conservatives are not at fault! It turns out conservatism is product of various psychological conditions that, when left unchecked, prevent the inflicted from every experiencing a true feeling of content. (Whether in or OUT of church).

Do we assume that the theories reviewed in this study are inversely proportional to the psychological conditions necessary to be liberal? Or are there OTHER theories that might help explain the left-wing ideology? I've translated this study into layman's language and sent it to everyone I know.
Wow. Mike Boggio's a genius.
The key to being "conservative" is reluctance to change long-established cultural, social, and political norms. Conservative resistance to change is not based on some irrational, homophobic, money-grubbing fear of things and people different from ourselves. The resistance to change is based on reason--namely, an understanding that things are the way they are for a purpose. Modern social institutions are the result of centuries of trial and error which have developed patterns of living that produce efficient, ordered societies largely composed of happy and productive individuals and families.

These traditions reflect an acquired recognition that life and happiness are better achieved through institutions that support liberty, community, and family. These are the foundations of prosperity and peace in the western commercial states. Partly on this understanding, Jefferson wrote, "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes." Just so, centuries of valuable human experience should not be rejected lightly.
pwned, biotch!
Ressurecting a 3-year old thread, but I couldn't let the logical errors in Mondo's post stand.

Aside from just giving a shrug to the very clear evidence in the Jost study that political conservatives DO have a strong fear of "things and people different from ourselves," Mondo's premise is logically flawed.

How could one accept adherence to the status quo based merely on the notion that "things are the way they are for a purpose" when that status quo was developed over "centuries of trial and error" i.e. - change in the status quo? Mondo's statements contradict each other, since there would be no "trial and error" at any point in time if everyone just adhered to way things currently were.

Progress is based on the rational evaluation (and re-evaluation) of things, and changing them to make things better. Conservatives resist change because of a general fear of change and uncertainty.

Additionally, Mondo exhibits the conservative trait of romanticizing an idealized past that never actually existed, i.e. the "good old days." To romanticize ANY era tends to ignore its faults and inflate its benefits.
He's spewing the Burkesian rationalization for accepting the tyranny of feudalism and fantastically disproportionate wealth distribution. It of course ignores the primary reason for an elite to maintain the status quo in which they are the leaders. Pure selfishness.

Which raises the one factor I feel was overlooked in the Jost study which i believe plays a large part in the evolution of a conservative adult personality, and that is the role of empathy in determining how far an individual extends the umbrella of "deserving of human rights". I too have become extremely fascinated with the rise of conservatism over the last decades or so, and I've come to believe that empathy, an emotion that seems to have appeared most recvent;ly in our evolutionary hoistory, is also the one emotion that conservatives seem least able to produce. OTOH, they do project the fear and militancy that result from unregulated amygdaloid responses...the amygdala being the lower-brain center of fight-or-flight, fear producing impulses. It seems that conservatives may be the result of an evolutionary line that selected for a group with limited access to the higher brain functions that evolved the ability to moderate and suppress such impulses...a necessary adaption that allowed the socialization that is necessary for the development of the group-strategy we now use for survival.
It may be that the more primitive functions of the brain still played a positive role in pre-neolithic times. Technology only evolved at the rate of a new spear-point every 100,000 years or so, so a fear of change wasn't particularly noticeable back then, or the millions of years prior to that when our social instincts were becoming hardwired into the higher brain functions that were evolving during that same period. The hoarding of food and unneccesary clothing was governed by nature, as well as being genetically unwise. Obsessive food gathering, the role as guard dogs that their paranoia and militancy may have played back then, with an unwillingness to try new plants or range too far from home, may all have had a stabilizing influence on a way of life that restricted the excesses now available to them due the technological developments of post-neolithic man.

In historical times however, heir dysfunctional influence is becoming increasingly obvious. We need only watch them ignore global-warming for no better reason than the acknowledgment of it as a real event means they may have to restrict their hoarding fetish.

Our technology is now far too dangerous to suffer such fools. Remedies gratefully accepted for consideration.

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