Thursday, May 28, 2009

Politics and Psychology

I read an Op-Ed piece this morning over a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats (okay, Star Trek cereal) called "Would You Slap Your Father? If So, You’re a Liberal." All right, that's a good hook. I'm listening.

The premise of the article is that studies show that in general liberals and conservatives think and feel differently on more subjects than just "the issues." If you want to find out where a new acquaintance's political sensibilities lie, Nicholas Kristof (an occasional topic kicker-offer around this blog) suggests you ask them questions like
"Would you be willing to slap your father in the face, with his permission, as part of a comedy skit?" and "Does it disgust you to touch the faucet in a public restroom?"

"Studies suggest that conservatives are more often distressed by actions that seem disrespectful of authority, such as slapping Dad. Liberals don’t worry as long as Dad has given permission.

Likewise, conservatives are more likely than liberals to sense contamination or perceive disgust. People who would be disgusted to find that they had accidentally sipped from an acquaintance’s drink are more likely to identify as conservatives."

I guess it makes sense that as a Democrat raised by Republicans I'd been fine with slapping my father in a sketch but I can't help but be mildly disgusted by public restrooms and sharing drinks with people who aren't romantic partners. But I think the latter just makes good health sense. If being a true liberal means loving getting sick, then count me out.

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