In case you haven’t heard there’s a Presidential campaign going on. Candidates from both parties are vying for their party’s nomination. As to be expected candidates in both parties are trying to get the support of the more extreme elements of their parties, the ones most likely to vote in a primary or caucus. Recent studies show how those in both parties see the world and how that viewpoint is verbalized.
Liberals and conservatives don’t just see political issues differently; they have different personalities and unconscious reactions to the world around them according to an article in Scientific American. Researchers at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln found that when looking at a collage of photographs, conservatives’ eyes unconsciously stayed 15% longer on repellent images (such as car wrecks and excrement) suggesting they’re more attuned than liberals to assessing potential threats.
How Do Political Labels Apply
Another study of personal items suggested that conservatives are more orderly and self-disciplined (suggesting they may be more likely to see the world as right and wrong, us and them) while liberals appeared to be more open and novelty seeking.
Psychologists have found conservatives are fundamentally more anxious than liberals so they typically desire stability, structure and clear answers even to complicated questions. By imposing order on a disorderly world anxiety can be more manageable. Conservative leaders tend to use more nouns in major speeches, according to research discussed in Science Daily, which may satisfy a desire for structure and certainty.
No matter one’s political pre-disposition opinions can change. When faced with a tangible threat even the most liberal person can become more conservative. Irina Feygina, a social psychology doctoral student at New York University did some research and found a way to have conservatives support a very liberal position, taking action to prevent pollution.
She framed pollution not as a challenge to government and industry (the status quo bringing order to the world) but as “a threat to the American way of life.” After reading language that couched environmental action as patriotic, study participants who displayed typical conservative traits were much more likely to sign petitions to prevent oil spills and protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Liberals tend to value caring for those who are vulnerable and fairness, which is defined as sharing resources equally. Conservatives care about the same things but have different definitions. Fairness means proportionality (people should get what they deserve based on their efforts) and they emphasize loyalty and authority which help maintain a stable society which may benefit those who are vulnerable.
One author cited by the article states those on the left should acknowledge that the right’s emphasis on laws, institutions, customs and religion is valuable while conservatives should recognize that democracy is a huge achievement that requires maintaining society by imposing constraints on people. Liberal values serve important roles by making sure the rights of weaker members of society are respected, limiting the harmful effects (such as pollution) that businesses can pass on to others and fostering innovation by supporting diverse ideas and ways of life.
If the other party is an individual do some homework on social media. Is there any indication of political views? If couched in the language of stability and structure an offer may appeal to a conservative where one using the language of fairness and sharing might get some mileage with someone who’s more liberal.