Thursday, February 05, 2015

Conservatives think more analytically

This study got a lot of attention:
Political conservatives in the United States are somewhat like East Asians in the way they think, categorize and perceive. Liberals in the U.S. could be categorized as extreme Americans in thought, categorization and perception. That is the gist of a new University of Virginia cultural psychology study, published recently in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. ...

"We found in our study that liberals and conservatives think as if they were from completely different cultures -- almost as different as East and West," ...

"On psychological tests, Westerners tend to view scenes, explain behavior and categorize objects analytically," Talhelm said. "But the vast majority of people around the world -- about 85 percent -- more often think intuitively -- what psychologists call holistic thought, and we found that's how conservative Americans tend to think."
The study paper is behind a paywall, but it appears that it uses very strange definitions. I see conservatives as supporting individualism, and liberals supporting collectivism. But this paper says the opposite, with "liberal culture is more individualistic, with looser social bonds, more emphasis on self-expression, and a priority on individual identities over group identities."

The lead author says:
If you see the world as all individuals, then welfare recipients are individuals too, just like you. Indeed analytic thinkers are more likely to agree with statements about universalism — “all people are equal”; “an African life is worth as much as an American life.”
No, this is not analytic thinking. Saying that all people have the same worth is the most simplistic childish view possible. And individualism is not saying that all individuals are the same as a justification for welfare spending. It is closer to the opposite.

Merriam-Webster defines individualism:
a (1) : a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount; also : conduct guided by such a doctrine (2) : the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals
b : a theory maintaining the political and economic independence of the individual and stressing individual initiative, action, and interests; also : conduct or practice guided by such a theory
American Heritage defines:
1. a. Belief in the primary importance of the individual and in the virtues of self-reliance and personal independence.
b. Acts or an act based on this belief.
2. a. A doctrine advocating freedom from government regulation in the pursuit of a person's economic goals.
b. A doctrine holding that the interests of the individual should take precedence over the interests of the state or social group.
3. a. The quality of being an individual; individuality.
b. An individual characteristic; a quirk.
These academic papers are nearly always written and published by liberals who do not understand conservativism. (In this case, one of the coauthors is a liberal professors who has published studies about how liberals do not understand conservativism.)

To show how conservatives like individualism, see this recent essay:
Self-Reliance Is the Bedrock of Parental Rights

We ought to ask ourselves how future generations can learn to be self-reliant if children are so protected from risks that they never learn self-regulation. At some point we have to understand that nanny states are in the business of killing the spirit of self-reliance. And since family autonomy is the primary source of learning self-reliance, parents are a companion target. ...

You will recall “The Life of Julia” infographic used in the 2012 Obama re-election campaign. Julia was a poster child promoting life-long dependence on the government. Big Brother virtually led her through an entire life coasting down a path of least resistance. That’s the fate of us all if we don’t start teaching real self-reliance in our young.

Julia is ignorant and disinterested in the idea of self-reliance. She’s a rote conformist who has exactly the sort of docile temperament central planners have always hoped to instill in child and adult alike. They have a vested interest in a society filled with people unaware and unable to take care of themselves. In this context, CPS overreach in the case of the Meitiv family fits right in with the script.
The push for a nanny state that uses CPS to threaten parents with free-range kids is almost entirely from liberals.

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