Originally published July 5 2015
Conservatives have greater self-control; liberals reject responsibility and free will, study finds
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) A newly published study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that conservatives tend to be more able to exert self-control than liberals, which is one reason why they might be better dieters.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, researchers believe they have discovered a link between the ability to be more self-controlled and an individual's political ideology. In a series of three studies involving more than 300 participants, the authors found that those who identify themselves as conservative perform better on self-control tests than other participants who identified themselves as liberal, regardless of socioeconomic status, gender or race.
The Los Angeles Times also noted:
They also report that participants' performance on the tests was influenced by how much they believed in the idea of free will, which the researchers define as the belief that a person is largely responsible for his or her own outcomes.
In addition, researchers found that conservatives have more of a propensity for free will, overwhelmingly agreeing with statements like, "Strength of mind can always overcome the body's desires," and, "People can overcome any obstacles if they truly want to."
"Conservatives tend to believe they had a greater control over their outcomes, and that was predicting how they did on the test," said Joshua Clarkson, a consumer psychologist at the University of Cincinnati and the paper's lead author.
In screening for greater self-control, Clarkson and his fellow researchers relied on the Stroop test, which asks participants to examine a collection of color words like "red" or "blue" that are printed in mismatching colorized fonts (like the word "orange" printed in green letters).
Participants were asked to read the words while ignoring the color of the font, which is a challenge.
"If you see the word 'red' in blue type your mind wants to say 'blue' right away, but you have to suppress that," Clarkson said. "That's why it is a strong indicator of self regulation."
The researchers also found that even though both liberals and conservatives could accurately read the words, the latter were mostly able to complete them faster than the former.
Nevertheless, there was one aspect in which liberals outperformed conservatives.
As noted by the Times:
During one of the experiments, participants were given a fake research article that suggested believing in free will is an obstacle to achieving personal goals. The volunteers were asked to read it before taking the test.
The fake article argued that people who take full responsibility for their outcomes can suffer from more frustration, anxiety and guilt compared with people who put less faith in free will. It concluded that those negative feelings are counter-productive to self-control performance.
Upon reading the phony article, conservatives performed worse on the test and liberals performed better, which could indicate that the power of suggestion might work more with conservatives than their liberal counterparts.
"For conservatives, their default when they experience struggle is to dig deep," said Clarkson. "But if all of a sudden you have a struggle, and then you think you are getting in your own way, you may start second-guessing yourself."
Second fake story confirmed first set of findingsAll of that second-guessing and anxiety soaks up brain power that could otherwise be applied to whatever tasks are at hand, he added.
Liberals might have performed better on the test after reading the fake article suggesting free will is bad because it allowed them to focus better on the test, Clarkson observed.
"You tell liberals that belief in free will is bad and they are like, 'Good, I don't have it anyway,'" he said.
The research team also ran a similar test with a different phony news article that argued belief in free will is a useful too for gaining self-confidence and that it can lead to better and increased effort.
After reading the second fake article, conservatives once again outperformed liberals on the test.
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