People who are easily scared vote conservative (new study)

This according to a new study

Any thoughts about this?

No debate? Just thoughts? Why not ask a mod to move this to IMHO?

Well, I’ve made it known in other threads that I don’t believe in innate, biological causes for people’s choices and behaviors. Based on the Washington Post article, I see the same problems in this study as in most of its type. Even if the correlation exists–and that has to be in question, given the small sample size–there’s no evidence given to prove that there’s a biological basis for it.

People with conservative politics are more likely to be raised in certain places and circumstances: rural or suburban, wealthy and middle class, and so on. Those with liberal politics are more likely to come from urban areas, the working class, and so on. It may simply be the different cultures of the two types also breed different “startle responses”.

I’ve been seeing this idea in various left-of-center publications, that there’s an innate psychology to right & left. It sometimes comes across as snobbery, the idea that the righties are less rational than we educated progressives. As such it’s much like the sometimes-heard claim on the right that the left is motivated by sentiment while the right is coldly rational & heartless, & properly so.

I think the truth is in main much simpler. Most voters pick an affiliation & then follow that, letting those “on” one’s “side” tell them what to think. That primal affiliation can be determined non-rationally, as arbitrarily as one picks a ballteam to root for in childhood. There’s a wave of Democrats who followed JFK & RFK for sheer celebrity appeal, & couldn’t tell you what they actually stood for–some of that type are officeholders now. Later, a wave of Republicans were similarly seduced by (or imprinted on, if you prefer) Reagan. Now comes the Obama wave.

Now, what motivates that strange animal, the swing voter, that’s another question.

I’ll decide who to vote on just like every other rational human. By my dick size.

Seriously, why do these studies even get published? If a couple follow up studies by other researchers come to the same conclusions, thatn I might pay attention. Until then. Meh.


…and now the Straight Dope is officially republican.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative thing. In fact, it might shed some light on why certain professions trend liberal or conservative. Military folks are most successful if their flight-or-fight response is on a hair trigger, if they’re ready for combat instantaneously, I’d think, whereas professors need to be able to tune out distractions in order to do their jobs.

That’s my out-of-my-ass speculation.


“After the series of images, the volunteers were asked when they next planned to visit a Chick-fil-a restaurant.”

I think a more scientific way of evaluating the startle-politics connection would be to show selected groups of conservatives and liberals a series of really scary movies with the theatres wired up with microphones. The group that screams more loudly would be deemed politically suspect.*
*You’d have to control for what scenes elicit screams. The right-wingers might screech loudest at a severed head, while the lefties might respond with an even higher decibel level to an image of Dick Cheney.

Wait - you’re asking why these studies get published and then asking for more studies to be published?

Just browsing a scientific database, I found this:

Jost, John T; Glaser, Jack; Kruglanski, Arie W; Sulloway, Frank J. (2003). Political conservatism as motivated social cognition. Psychological Bulletin. Vol 129(3) May 2003, 339-375.

This meta-analysis suggests that fears and threats are strongly associated with conservative political beliefs. Whether it relates to a heightened startle response is not clear.

This literature is not my area of expertise. It does fit with my unscientifically formed opinion, however.

     I'm inclined to believe in a predisposition for people's choices and behaviours although we like to take credit for free will and self-determination.

 There's likely stats for the assertions in your second paragraph but they don't jibe with many instances of people within the same family having widely divergent, sometimes irreconcilable stands.

Well the undead can be pretty scary.
Based on that study I should be incredibly conservative. My fight or flight goes off sooo easy, and I can be jumpy. I also have am really shy. I seldom choose flight though. I’ve gotten it under control so most people don’t know.

Last month I was really proud of myself. I was out walking and a German Shepard came running at me barking and growling. They’re normally sweet dogs but with a bad owner who trains them wrong they can do some serious damage. I looked it right in the eye and ran at it doing my best to bark and growl back. It just got this “WTF” look on it’s face turned and bolted back into it’s yard. Then I went home numb all over and pale from fear and nerves. Just because I staired it down showing no fear doesn’t mean I wasn’t near heart failure on the inside.
A quick search of my posts will show I’m anything but conservative. Unless you’re a coward who can’t face your fears; it’s about what you believe is right, not what you believe is scary.

tr;dl: there’s both jumpy liberal and conservatives as well as steele liberals and conservatives.

I’ve seen no evidence that conservatives were ever bed wetters over:

(1) Global Warming;
(2) the coming Ice Age;
(3) the imminent takeover of the US by Billy Graham; (is he still alive?)
(4) the imminent takeover of the US by the Dominionists;
(5) carbon footprints;
(6) carbon dioxide;
(7) Peak Oil;
(8) Sarah Palin;
(9) Karl Rove; (What the hell did he do, really?)
(10) Asteroids.

Then all we have to do is start a rumor that voting gives you anthrax! :slight_smile:

:Sigh: This would be counterproductive. Voting in our safe suburban precinct is fine. Even if it’s not, we can get absentee ballots. Those inner city precincts, though, you’ll be lucky if anthrax is all you get!

Whereas conservatives have been proven to be bedwetters over:

(1) Terrorism (to the point of being happy to sign all of our rights as American citizens away in order to be more secure)
(2) Homosexuals
(3) Socialism (even a HINT of it)
(4) Pseudo-crypto-Muslim Manchurian candidates
(5) United Church of Christ ministers with opinions
(6) Middle-aged former members of 50-year-old protest terrorist groups who never killed anybody
(7) Any presidential candidates who’ve ever sat within 100 feet of (6)
(8) Communists (No, really! Communists! In 2008!)
(9) Common figures of speech (“lipstick on a pig”, “losing his bearings”)
(10) the truth

Because there needs to be a foundation upon which other researchers can work from. You’re right, this might not be good science, but it needs to be published so other researchers can work from it to prove or disprove the claim.

I think you’re right about “until then, meh” with regard to replication but studies like this need to be published because there might be something to them.

If jayjay has any point at all under his sarc (and I believe he does), then liberals are more afraid of future events (ie: risks and dangers), while conservatives are more afraid of ideas and behaviors (which might trigger events).

Based on that study you would be more likely to be conservative than someone with a less developed startle response by some unspecified amount. What that amount is we can’t know based on the information given, other than to say that it is statistically unlikely to be due to chance.

What other factors might be relavent? I’m sure someone could also make a nice graph showing a strong correlation between internet piracy and Anthro global warming awareness, but a five finger discount on ms office doesn’t make you more green aware.

I grew up around a very Conservative grandfather. Used to listen all sorts of nutso things about demons, ufos, evils in the world ect. From his mindset the world is a dangerous place, anything not familiar and christian is satanic. Getting sick is satan attacking you. Anyone in power who isn’t “christian” (meaning agrees with his brand of the C) is in league with satan. abortionists are evil, homosexuals are evil them winning is the devil winning and abomination against god. Spirits control everything. This wacko my mom got involved with when I was a teen thought I should be an architect. I didn’t wanna be an architect.So his solution instead of maybe asking what I did want to be was to yell “spirit of rebellion I rebuke you. out of this house”. I suppose in a manor it did work. I was so pissed off at that point I stormed off outside.
It’s a very black and white mindset. Either you’re good or you’re evil and need to be stopped/repent.

So what kind of controls did this experiment have? Like does have data for religious conservatives vs social ones? I could very well see how religious conservatives can be more fear based.

I grew up to be agnostic but I think those experiences are a window into how some people think.

Isn’t the counter-spin on these results simply that “People who are more comfortable with disgusting things vote liberal”? :dubious: :stuck_out_tongue:

I have no view one way or the other on the study’s validity, but I don’t see why anyone on the left would consider these results to be flattering.