<!-- Begin meta tags generated by ORblogs --> </meta name="keywords" content="progressive, liberal, politics, government, edit, language, grammar, accuracy, honesty, clarity, world, news, media" /> </> <!-- End meta tags generated by ORblogs -->> Editor at Large: Study says whiny, insecure kids grow up to be conservatives

Monday, March 20, 2006

Study says whiny, insecure kids grow up to be conservatives

Whiny, insecure kids tend to grow up rigid and traditional. Confident, resilient, self-reliant kids typically become bright, non-conforming adults. So concludes a study published in the Journal of Research Into Personality.

The author of the study, UC-Berkeley professor Jack Block, tracked 95 kids from nursery school through adulthood. The nursery-school kids' personalities were rated by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. Political bias couldn't have skewed the ratings, because the investigators were not looking at political orientation back then. Even if they had been, it's unlikely that 3- and 4-year-olds would have had any idea about their political leanings.

A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking not only at personality but at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, turning into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity. The confident kids turned out liberal and turned into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests.

This appears to contradict the American stereotype of wimpy liberals and strong conservatives, doesn't it?

Of course, conservatives will say that the study was biased, since its author was a Berkeley professor and all. Besides, maybe when they were kids they whined and were insecure because the world is a scary, unfair place, and their "rigidity" is really just moral certainty.

However, as science writer Kurt Kleiner says, "All of us, liberal or conservative, feel as though we've reached our political opinions by carefully weighing the evidence and exercising our best judgment. But it could be that all of that careful reasoning is just after-the-fact self-justification. What if personality forms our political outlook, with reason coming along behind, rationalizing after the fact?"



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