Political Conservatism and Personality

A few days ago, I was catching up on my reading when I discovered a paper on political conservatism and personality traits. I haven’t been able to wade through the paper myself yet, but according to the article where I discovered it, it reports “that overall, political conservatism was associated with things like death anxiety, fear of threat and loss, intolerance of uncertainty, a lack of openness to experience, and a need for order, structure, and closure.”

I already knew that it was related to fear and anxiety, but that’s more specific and possibly useful information.

I’d been feeling somewhat sorry for conservative people already, but this makes them even more pitiable. A person who can’t stand uncertainty is doomed to go through life in a near-constant state of panic, because no matter how careful you are, life is full of uncertainty.

Of course, feeling sorry for conservatives doesn’t mean that I’ll tolerate them governing me. 🙂 I’m neither Democrat nor Republican, but I’m certainly a lot closer to liberal than conservative.


  1. I don’t know about this, I’m sure one could diagnose far-left people as having a form of mental illness too. 😉 I’m not sure if it’s fair or productive just to diagnose the problems of just one wing of the political spectrum. The real problem is ideologues in general, and pandering to the base in the case of the US political scene. It’s even possible for there to be responsible and politically useful Republicans, though they haven’t been much in evidence lately with the tea party’s ascendency…

    At least they talk about cutting the deficit to manageable levels or better, even though unlike two post-war presidents, Bill Clinton and LBJ, both liberal democrats according to their detractors, they never manage to do that when they’re in charge. 😉

  2. And just what form of mental illness would you suspect liberals of having? 🙂 Liberal concepts generally seem focused on easing fear for everyone (provide a social safety-net, guaranteed medical care, a clean environment, and the like), while conservative concepts are generally at least mildly paranoid and/or intolerant (more military spending, more jails, fewer immigrants, etcetera) and are focused on generating more fear in at least some people.

    Of course, in recent years Republicans have also focused on tax cuts for the wealthy, which isn’t really a conservative idea, but I suspect that has a lot more to do with money and influence than political ideals.

    • You’ve written enough about global warming falacies to know that there are radical environmentalists, and there are social liberals who are extreme on leniency for crime, and other issues such as “political correctness” get rather bizarre at times. There is such a thing as a lack of moderate views in some liberal circles.

      However, I’d definitely agree that the tea-party agenda comes from rather twisted minds. 😉

    • Those issues point to individual mental problems, and different ones in each major case. As shown in the original article, there is a specific set of mental faults associated with all or nearly all conservatism.

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