Study finds conservatives have more self control than liberals.

By Seriously Science | June 23, 2015 11:34 am
Image: Flickr/DonkeyHotey

Image: Flickr/DonkeyHotey

With the general election only 503 days away, politics is all everyone’s talking about. And most Americans probably already know which way they are going to vote, even though the candidates have yet to be decided upon. But what makes a liberal a liberal and a conservative, well, a conservative? We’ve reported on a number of studies that try to address this question, and here’s another to add to the pile. These researchers found that one difference between liberals and conservatives seems to be self-control–apparently conservatives have more! And this is not just any old correlation; the relationship seems to stem from the conservative ideology that people can choose their outcome in life. When this belief was experimentally reinforced, conservatives exhibited more self control, and less after reading a paragragh explaining how free will leads to frustration and unhappiness (see below for the full text of the paragraph). But there is one thing we hope everyone has enough self-control to do: don’t forget to vote!

The self-control consequences of political ideology.

“Evidence from three studies reveals a critical difference in self-control as a function of political ideology. Specifically, greater endorsement of political conservatism (versus liberalism) was associated with greater attention regulation and task persistence. Moreover, this relationship is shown to stem from varying beliefs in freewill; specifically, the association between political ideology and self-control is mediated by differences in the extent to which belief in freewill is endorsed, is independent of task performance or motivation, and is reversed when freewill is perceived to impede (rather than enhance) self-control. Collectively, these findings offer insight into the self-control consequences of political ideology by detailing conditions under which conservatives and liberals are better suited to engage in self-control and outlining the role of freewill beliefs in determining these conditions.”

This is the text that study particpants in the “freewill is not helpful” group read before completing their tasks:

“Across a series of papers spanning 50 years, the belief in freewill was consistently shown to increase participants’ feelings of frustration and anxiety. These feelings, in turn, undermined (i.e., weakened) selfcontrol. Thus, research consistently demonstrates that the lack of belief in one’s responsibility over his or her actions is incredibly beneficial for self-control.”

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: politics schmolitics
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