Saturday, January 25, 2014

What Is The Psychological Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives?


"What Is The Psychological Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives?," a short article by Red Stewart at Youngprogressivevoices.net, takes another look at the reason Conservatives and Liberals are so different where it counts - in the mind.:

"What Is The Psychological Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives?

"This is a topic that has personally fascinated me, because I find it strange that two completely unrelated issues can be associated purely by political ideology. For example, if I question a liberal and a conservative on political topics such as climate change and abortion, both are likely to give predictable answers, despite the unrelated nature of the questions. Why are political demographics so homogenous in response?

"Well, to be honest, a brilliant professor by the name of George Lakoff already beat me to the punch. Also intrigued by this question about the relationships between intrinsically different issues, he conducted a large research project wherein he interviewed many members of the left and right. To make a long story short, here’s what he came up with; it all stems from one’s childhood. If this is sounding Freudian to you, then you would be correct in assuming that.



"The psychological difference

"Lakoff stated that there were two different parental models that conservative and liberal children fell under depending on their parents’ own political beliefs. Conservatives fall under what he called the 'strict father' model while liberals are raised by the 'nurturant parent' model. Before I go on, note that these labels aren’t gender specific. In other words, a strict father could very well just mean a strict household or strict mother or strict grandfather. It doesn’t matter who raised the child.

"Going from that, let’s look at the strict father first (which I’ll be referring to as SFM for now. Once again, this doesn’t mean a male parent). In the SFM, children are brought into a world full of competition. As a result, they need a guardian with harsh discipline who’ll tell them the difference between right and wrong, as they have experienced the world and know the best way to achieve success. This discipline can come from various sources, though what appears to be the most common method these days is religion and prayer.


"Greed comes in Two Colors; Society and Economics

"As a result of this strict discipline, morality comes to be seen as obedience to a higher authority since the higher authority, as I said, knows the way to success. This type of operant conditioning results in the child associating morality with prosperity, and it’s from here that we split into the two defining stances of any ideology: social issues and economics. Let’s start with social issues, especially welfare, because it’s very simple to understand; if someone isn’t prosperous, this means that they aren’t moral; and if they aren’t moral, it means they aren’t disciplined; and if they aren’t disciplined than they deserve their situation.

"Economics is also easy to understand from a conservative’s point of view if you’re familiar with Adam Smith. The Father of Modern Economics, Smith, to put it very generally, stated that if everyone works for their own self-interests, the 'Invisible Hand' of economics will maximize the final profits of everyone. Of course, anyone who’s seen A Beautiful Mind will know that this was disproved by John Nash, but that’s getting off topic. Back to the point, in an SFM, the child has been raised with this strong discipline. Now they are ready to go out into the world and pursue their self-interests in the face of all this competition. The way to ensure that Adam Smith’s theory works is to apply the Darwinian principle of 'survival of the fittest." Tying back to the social issues, those who are the most disciplined will be the most successful.

"One small thing I want to touch base on here is the idea of free competition. If you (and by you I mean the government) starts imposing regulations on people, then Smith’s theory is corrupted and some competitors get an unfair advantage over the others. This is where anti-global warming comes in, as it’s all about regulation.


"All quiet on the liberal front

"That basically summarizes how conservatives are raised. Let’s look at the other side of the coin, the nurturant parent model (NPM) that governs liberals. With this come two important aspects: caring about you and caring about others. The nurturing parents want their kids to have happy and fulfilled lives. Why? Because you can’t take care of others if you haven’t taken care of yourself. I.e. if you’re not happy, then you’re not going to want to make others happy. As such, parents following the NPM raise their kids, not out of strict obedience as is done in the SFM, but with compassion and respect. This change is significant because it leaves children more open-minded to develop their own thoughts since they aren’t 'inheriting' their father’s version of morality. Now, that’s not to say that the NPM teaches there isn’t competition in the world, but it advocates that, while there is competition, there is also cooperation. And the best way to achieve this cooperation is by showing respect and compassion to your fellow competitors.

"This ties together the socioeconomic aspects of the NPM; wanting everyone to work together means showing respect and trying to take care/protect one another. Again, welfare comes into play in this regard most obviously, but then we have other issues such as environmental protection and animal rights arising from this empathetic look on the world.

"And that concludes my answer to the question of what the difference is between a liberal and a conservative. It’s not about what we think 'on the issues,' but how we were raised. I touched upon a few specific examples, but I’m hoping that you all can get an idea of where conservative/liberal stances on other issues arise from. For example, accepting obedience from religion has led to a variety of archaic religious ideas to seep into our modern-day setting, such as anti-LGBT rights and anti-abortion. That’s just one of many things to think about.


"Don’t worry if you’re neither a liberal nor conservative

"For those who of you who don’t consider yourself either a liberal or a conservative, know that the SFM and NPM aren’t absolute ideas for each household to fall under. Many parents raise their kids with a mix of these two. Nor are they absolute rules; more of general indications of the most likely course of events.

"As a liberal/progressive, I obviously find faults in the conservative SFM, but we have to accept that they think the same way about our model. If you want to run with bipartisan support, you’ll have to learn to integrate both these models into your character. That’s what Ronald Reagan so successfully did, and it allowed him to pursue his conservative agenda under the falseness of a bipartisan angle. If you want to loosen conservatism in this country, then you’ll have to appeal to the young and dismantle their views under the SFM before they become permanently integrated.

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The difference between the "Nurturant Parent Model" (NPM) and the "Strict Father Model (SFM) is, of course, Bad Toilet Training.

And it seems so simple to make a Liberal out of the malleable clay that a toddler really is, just tell it, "Make for Daddy," not, "Dammit, you little bastard, go NOW!"

Child raising is more complicated than this but when we hear someone say, "My daddy beat me all the time and I turned out all right," five will get you ten that this idiot voted the straight Republican ticket.

So, parents: "...(R)aise (your kids), not out of strict obedience as is done in the SFM, but with compassion and respect," or you'll find yourselves the parents of another Alex B. Keaton (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_P._Keaton) - or worse, a Rick Santorum (http://politicalhumor.about.com/b/2012/02/16/rick-santorum-quotes.htm).

When Conservatism is made illegal, all children of Conservatives and their Sheeplets will have to be raised in communes to make sure Bad Toilet Training (BTF) doesn't  turn their innocent children into Conservative monsters.

Mothers, don't let your children grow up to be Conservatives.



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“As yesterday’s positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards
are high and results are measured.”

George W. Bush.


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