Flashback Friday: Study finds that conservatives pretend they’re happy, but liberals actually are.

By Seriously Science | March 3, 2017 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Anna

Image: Flickr/Anna

Can your political views predict your happiness? Well, according to this study, published in the top journal Science, the answer is “Yes!”. Previous survey results have suggested that conservatives rate their own happiness higher than liberals. However, such studies are difficult to interpret because people tend to be unreliable sources of information about themselves. So these scientists went beyond using such subjective measures, and instead extracted emotional content from publicly available pictures of conservative and liberal members of Congress, as well as the text of the 2013 Congressional Record. Their analysis suggests that despite conservatives’ higher self-reported happiness, liberals actually display greater happiness in real life. Happy now?

Conservatives report, but liberals display, greater happiness.

“Research suggesting that political conservatives are happier than political liberals has relied exclusively on self-report measures of subjective well-being. We show that this finding is fully mediated by conservatives’ self-enhancing style of self-report (study 1; N = 1433) and then describe three studies drawing from “big data” sources to assess liberal-conservative differences in happiness-related behavior (studies 2 to 4; N = 4936). Relative to conservatives, liberals more frequently used positive emotional language in their speech and smiled more intensely and genuinely in photographs. Our results were consistent across large samples of online survey takers, U.S. politicians, Twitter users, and LinkedIn users. Our findings illustrate the nuanced relationship between political ideology, self-enhancement, and happiness and illuminate the contradictory ways that happiness differences can manifest across behavior and self-reports.”

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: feelings shmeelings, told you so
  • OWilson

    Are those totally unhinged miserable folks in your Media, and the rioting, looting and cop car burning, government building vandals, really conservatives?

    Or just happy liberals?

    • Daniel San

      Go watch Le Liserables and tell me which side seems happier. The rioters or the elites?

    • eric

      You paint with too broad a brush. Most rioters and looters reflect the plurality of our citizens-apolitical. But very opportunistic if they facilitate a situation they can “come up” on. Also you are talking about a group that is correlated more strongly with a disadvantaged socioeconomic status than strong political leanings. –There are different studies that explore the relationship between level of happiness and socioeconomic status As if there are no conservatives on trailer parks or no liberals living in Beverly Hills? What’s next, are you going to say Dylan Roof. Timothy McVeigh, and the murderous followers of ISIS are in reality closet liberals? I think not.

      • OWilson

        A study that purports to find that liberals are “really” happy and conservatives are “pretending” they are?

        And I, who call it just more fake news for the CNN dupes, “paint with too broad a brush”?

        Love it!

        • eric

          Obviously the study is pointing out a correlation not an absolute, I would have to know more details about how it was carried out before I were to form an opinion on it– my views on this subject come from my own anecdotal observations.By the way I do not watch CNN nor am I the Dupe in this exchange– you love it?! No, you hate it and are just “pretending” to love it–let me guess.. Conservative?!

          • OWilson

            Yes, and a happy one at that! :)

            Have a nice day!

      • Lonesome Whistle

        “Most rioters and looters reflect the plurality of our citizens-apolitical”


        Please point to conservatives who are rioting and looting.

        • eric

          Wow Lonesome is very rare to see so much foolishness expressed in so few words. I am going to have to overwhelm you with facts, stats, reasoning and a little history,(hopefully your head does not implode) i do not even know where to begin, however. First off you seem to have misunderstood my argument–let me break it down in simpler terms for you –political protests can often be infiltrated by opportunists and a criminal element individuals who. Have no strong political leanings but see an opportunity to cause mayhem and loot– pretty simple, huh? Now let’s see you seem to be saying that conservatives hold some kind of higher moral ground when they engage in illegitimate political expressions.. You say “point to conservatives who are rioting and looting” I can do better than that. Rioting by definition is an illegal act- a tactic used by a sub segment of a society that is feeling oppressed or maybe they are dominant demographic and fear losing that status. Destruction of private and/or public property is actually one of the more benign forms of illegitimate political expression when compared to blowing up a federal building like Conservative Timothy McVeigh did or shoring up a church like Conservative Dylan Roof did, or the bombings, murders, and other acts of Mayhem committed by Southern Segregationists during the 50’s and 60’s. I would be surprised if the conservatives in Venezuela do not riot within the next year do to the troubles they are facing. I do not condone riots or willful destruction but they can turn out to be the embryos of social change or Revolution and then we celebrate them and give them names like “The Boston Tea Party” or “The Fall of the Berlin Wall” and forget that at the time they were committed they were illegal acts. My Hess is that you are not so much expressing your disdain for riots but rather a disdain for liberals but lack the ability to rationally express it.Of course McVeigh, Roof, and the violent Segregationists will always have a legacy of scorn no matter what path our country takes. As far as your question “ARE YOU ON DRUGS?” it seems it was not a serious question but meant to insult — and uncalled for — I mean I am not on here asking you which side of the family your feeble mindedness came from or how closely related your parents are so please try to maintain a civil discourse or hit up a Yahoo comments section–it might be a better fit for you.

          • Lonesome Whistle

            Hey you oververbose gasbag, we’re talking about your LEFTWING SCUM BOYFRIENDS who have been attacking police and burning cas and businesses since 2014.

  • https://ridingtheirownmelting.wordpress.com/ cgs

    The only thing I’ll contrast here is this:

    Conservatives love political talk radio and they do very well at it. Liberals fail miserably at it.

    Liberals love scathing political comedy and they do it very well at it. Conservatives fail miserably at it.

    Now. How does the tone of those two approaches to political commentary square up? What emotions are brought forth in consumers of these products? Exactly.

  • jhertzli

    How do you measure the genuineness of a smile?

    • eric

      There supposedly is a way to do this–a person’s genuine smile uses different facial muscles than his or her phony smile

    • Lonesome Whistle

      Liberals smile the most when taking it in the caboose from JIhadis.

    • OWilson

      Look at any photo of Hillary?

      (Or Bill, when he’s looking at any woman BUT Hillary!)

  • Matthew Slyfield

    Really? Is there anyone in the universe who isn’t a political hack that actually believes that these kinds of studies have even the tiniest shred of scientific validity.

  • John Guido

    This site is biased towards liberals, and it is only 1 study.

    • OWilson


      There have been lots of “studies” printed in this magazine comparing those Republicans to Democrats.

      A quick search through the archives reveals damning evidence that Republicans are scientifically illiterate, are at war with science, are the party of the poor red necks, the party of the rich, hate their jobs, beat their wives,and kick their dogs.

      Who wouldn’t be unhappy with THAT life?

      • John Guido

        Meet people, meet people.

        • John Guido

          A lot of conservatives are really serious about what they are trying to accomplish, and it shows!

  • Bobareeno

    There should be a study to determine which political group has the most red eyes.

  • Billy

    Conservatives clearly live in fear of, well, everything, so this makes some sense. Liberals live in fear of conservatives, but at least their’s is rational.

    • OWilson

      Aside from fearing freedom of speech at Universities of learning, and the weather a hundred years from now, or even the outcomes of democratic elections, liberals are almost mentally stable.

      It’s when they start rioting, looting, burning cop cars, and vandalizing the own government buildings they give themselves away! :)


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