This Girl's Voice

Tuesday, August 19, 2003  

Well, that explains it

This Guardian article, which sounds more like it must have come out of The Onion, reveals that a U.S. Government funded study titled Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition has concluded that underlying psychological motivations that mark conservatives are:

* Fear and aggression
* Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
* Uncertainty avoidance
* Need for cognitive closure
* Terror management

The study reports that the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality.

Surprise, surprise.

It won't be long until the Freepers will be organizing yet another full on hatemail fest and fax blitz, this time demanding the dismantling of all American colleges and universities labelling them communist loving un-American anti-patriotic establishments for daring to conduct studies on true "freedom loving" Americans.

Of course, Republicans, permanently poised in their 365/24/7 "playing the refs" posturing, are pounding their fists in outrage and, headed off by Dan Burton, are persuing a government funded investigation of their own into why the psychologists behind the Berkeley study received $1.2 million in public funds for their research from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers reitterated that almost all belief systems develop in part to satisfy psychological needs and that their conclusions do not "mean that conservatism is pathological or that conservative beliefs are necessarily false, irrational, or unprincipled".

You could have fooled me.
And the rest of humankind.

According to the Guardian, the psychologists culled through 50 years of research literature and sought patterns among 88 samples, involving 22,818 participants, taken from journal articles, books and conference papers. The material originating from 12 countries included speeches and interviews given by politicians, opinions and verdicts rendered by judges, as well as experimental, field and survey studies. Ten meta-analytic calculations performed on the material - which included various types of literature and approaches from different countries and groups - yielded consistent, common threads:

The study pointed towards the avoidance of uncertainty, as well as the striving for certainty, as being particularly tied to one key dimension of conservative thought: the resistance to change or hanging onto the status quo. As if this weren't enough to drive conservatives over the edge and liberals into a delirous dance of delight, the study linked Reagan, Hitler, Mussolini and talk show host Rush Limbaugh as concluding that these men were all right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form.

One of the four authors of the study, Arie Kruglansi of the University of Maryland, said that he had received hate mail since the study was published, thereby proving the study's conclusions to be true. (I couldn't resist.)

Paper One
Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition [PDF file]
Paper Two
Exceptions That Prove the Rule [PDF file]

posted by voxpopgirl | 8/19/2003