Political Party Choice Steeped in Biology

TORONTO, June 11 (UPI) — Political preferences do not emerge from a simple rational consideration of issues, they are steeped in biology, University of Toronto researchers say.

Lead author Jacob Hirsh, a postdoctoral psychology student at the University of Toronto, and colleagues asked more than 600 Canadian and U.S. students to classify their politics as either small-L liberal or small-C conservative instead of a particular political party.


The study subjects were then given a personality test.

The study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found psychological concern for compassion and equality is associated with a liberal mindset, while concern for order and respect of social norms is associated with a conservative mindset.

“Conservatives tend to be higher in a personality trait called orderliness and lower in openness. This means that they’re more concerned about a sense of order and tradition, expressing a deep psychological motive to preserve the current social structure,” Hirsh said in a statement. “While everybody has the same basic motivational architecture, the relative strength of the underlying systems varies from one person to the next. If concerns for order and equality are relatively balanced, the individual is likely to be politically moderate; as either motive grows stronger than the other, political preferences move further to either end of the spectrum.”

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