Thursday, October 21, 2021

Conservatives "Happier" Than Liberals ? Another Mumbo Jumbo Finding From Modern Psychology


"Hey, Libs! Doncha know we is happier than y'all? Science say so!"

For years we (liberals) have been informed that "psychological research" indicates political conservatives (namely Republicans) are "happier" than their liberal counterparts. This so-called "ideological happiness gap" has inspired elaborate psychological theories for why conservatives enjoy life more than us liberals. But let's back up here first to point out that psychology is the weakest and fuzziest of all the sciences.

Psychological studies by their nature are subjective and the general consensus now is that psychology is the least trustworthy science in terms of proving its claims or theories.  From 'Live Science':

"There was something wrong with psychology. A cascade of warning signs arrived all at once in 2011. Famous psychological experiments failed, over and over, when researchers re-did them in their own labs. Even worse, the standard methods researchers used in their labs turned out under close scrutiny to be wishy-washy enough to prove just about anything. Nonsense, ridiculous claims turned up in major journals. It was a moment of crisis....For scientists who had dedicated their lives to this science and these methods, it was as if the rug had suddenly been ripped out from under them.

This is why any given psychology study must be taken with a grain of salt until all possible parameters are investigated and tested.  That goes for the claim of conservos- Repukes being "happier" than libs.  I am not going to recount here all the specious reasons the claim is made, as people can find out for themselves by a bit of Google searching, e.g. 

Why Are Conservatives Happier Than Liberals?” by Jaime Napier of N.Y.U.


Conservatives Are Happier Than Liberals, but Why?” by Barry R. Schlenker and John Chambers, both of the University of Florida, and Bonnie Le of the University of Rochester.

But other studies have disclosed the so-called happiness gap is just an illusion, a psychological mirage.  This is according to a new study published in the journal Science, which found that the tiny statistical  differences in previous studies may all trace to conservos' well known propensity to "self enhance", i.e. pump themselves up into fictions of what they really are: greedy, ruthless, self-absorbed and uncaring rubes who subscribe to beliefs beneath the purview of any truly intelligent human .  

Again, also, we must come back to why this area of psychological "research" is so pathetic that it would make a physicist - or astronomer - howl with laughter at the methodology. For example, most of these studies asked subjects to self-report their happiness and do so on 1-10  (numerical) scales. Cheap and easy to implement but too subjective to be regarded as anything other than howler science, or even pseudo-science.  So, given conservatives are far more prone to be hostage to the Dunning-Kruger effect than more reflective liberals, it makes sense they'd rate their happiness scale higher, once again self-enhancing reality.  

Let's focus on that aspect.  To get enough subjects to nail down this tiny statistical effect, the researchers in the Science study used a website——open to people of any political persuasion. A total of 1433 people filled out and submitted not only the standard happiness questionnaire but also a series of questions called the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding. That instrument measures "the tendency to engage in self-deceptive enhancement." For example, people who highly agree with statements such as "I am fully in control of my own fate," or, "I never regret my decisions," are deemed to be self-enhancing.

Sure enough, the new study found that people's political conservatism was slightly correlated with their tendency to self-enhance. That effect was deemed "tiny", but still big enough to explain away the happiness gap, according to the researchers. Maybe the most pointed remark is from Daniel Kahan, a psychologist at Yale University.  He who was not involved in the Science study but he  has waded through battles about the minds of liberals versus conservatives.  

The study, he says: "raises questions about the validity of happiness self-report measures generally."   And:

"Conservatives don't seem to be any happier than liberals," he concludes .   Another researcher,  Wojcik,  agrees that "this research quickly raises philosophical questions about what it means to be happy at all."  

Indeed, and the most general statement in antiquity may have  been that attributed to Seneca, addressing Lucilius:

"Continually remind yourself, Lucilius, of the many things you have achieved. When you look at all the people out in front of you, think of all the ones behind you. If you want to feel appreciative where the gods and your life are concerned, just think how many people you’ve outdone. Why be concerned about others, come to that, when you’ve outdone your own self?

Finally, Stavrova and Luhman found -in their own study- what might be the key conclusion about alleged conservo happiness being fraudulent:

"Conservative Americans were at their happiest when the overall political climate was rather conservative. In those years in which a more liberal climate prevailed, they were not generally happier than liberals".

Indeed, and if they were all that happy they'd not have needed to try to overturn a free and fair election,  or side with a traitor in an insurrection to overthrow the duly elected government - or grovel in insane conspiracy ideations.  Case freakin' closed!   

See Also:


There's no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice.

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