Conservatives and Liberals
For many years, liberals have enjoyed the benefit of considering politics as a preference, meaning that political choices do not require a logical basis such as what is good for the nation, and reflect the whim and will of the individual alone. If you — for example — find liberalism to be aesthetically more inspiring, why not vote for that? Nothing wrong with it.
As always, time uncovers the hidden lie, and now science slowly reveals the gap between liberals and conservatives as having more of a biological (and thus aptitudinal, although they will fight that notion tooth and nail as they did with race, class and sex) foundation than previously thought. A recent study found that conservatives have a longer attention span and can postpone gratification for longer than liberals:
In a paper published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers say there is a link between political ideology and the ability to exert self-control.
In a series of three studies with more than 300 participants, the authors found that people who identify as conservative perform better on tests of self-control than those who identify as liberal regardless of race, socioeconomic status and gender.
Self-control includes the ability to defer gratification, which means that when the person looks forward to something pleasurable, they are able to put off acting toward that end in order to achieve a greater benefit. The classic example of this is the famous marshmallow test:
Mischel and his colleagues presented a preschooler with a plate of treats such as marshmallows. The child was then told that the researcher had to leave the room for a few minutes, but not before giving the child a simple choice: If the child waited until the researcher returned, she could have two marshmallows. If the child simply couldn’t wait, she could ring a bell and the researcher would come back immediately, but she would only be allowed one marshmallow.
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