Tuesday, April 24, 2007

And Now, For Something Completely Different

This excerpt from a friend. Interesting. No wonder we often have such a hard time understanding one another. No wonder it’s so easy to manipulate vast swaths of people to do evil things or things running directly contrary to their own self interests.

It’s also interesting to note the different approach of the two groups: One requires a comforting Daddy Figure, (vertical hierarchy of Authority) the other requires a more independent, egalitarian, Don’t Listen To Daddy, We’ll Figure This Out Ourselves, mode of operation. That in itself guarantees a conflict.

Well, as I’ve said before, we are little more than tribal monkeys who often demonstrate less sense than God gave a goat, alas. Unless we are constantly reminded to Stop, Take a Deep Breath, and THINK.

Subject: Psychology Today - interesting

The Ideological AnimalExcerpt:Abstract Art vs. Talk Radio: The Political Personality Standoff

Most people are surprised to learn that there are real, stable differences in personality between conservatives and liberals-not just different views or values, but underlying differences in temperament. Psychologists John Jost of New York University, Dana Carney of Harvard, and Sam Gosling of the University of Texas have demonstrated that conservatives and liberals boast markedly different home and office decor. Liberals are messier than conservatives, their rooms have more clutter and more color, and they tend to have more travel documents, maps of other countries, and flags from around the world. Conservatives are neater, and their rooms are cleaner, better organized, more brightly lit, and more conventional. Liberals have more books, and their books cover a greater variety of topics. And that's just a start. Multiple studies find that liberals are more optimistic. Conservatives are more likely to be religious. Liberals are more likely to like classical music and jazz, conservatives, country music. Liberals are more likely to enjoy abstract art. Conservative men are more likely than liberal men to prefer conventional forms of entertainment like TV and talk radio. Liberal men like romantic comedies more than conservative men. Liberal women are more likely than conservative women to enjoy books, poetry, writing in a diary, acting, and playing musical instruments.

"All people are born alike-except Republicans and Democrats," quipped Groucho Marx, and in fact it turns out that personality differences between liberals and conservatives are evident in early childhood. In 1969, Berkeley professors Jack and Jeanne Block embarked on a study of childhood personality, asking nursery school teachers to rate children's temperaments. They weren't even thinking about political orientation.

Twenty years later, they decided to compare the subjects' childhood personalities with their political preferences as adults. They found arresting patterns. As kids, liberals had developed close relationships with peers and were rated by their teachers as self-reliant, energetic, impulsive, and resilient. People who were conservative at age 23 had been described by their teachers as easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, and vulnerable at age 3. The reason for the difference, the Blocks hypothesized, was that insecure kids most needed the reassurance of tradition and authority, and they found it in conservative politics.

The most comprehensive review of personality and political orientation to date is a 2003 meta-analysis of 88 prior studies involving 22,000 participants. The researchers-John Jost of NYU, Arie Kruglanski of the University of Maryland, and Jack Glaser and Frank Sulloway of Berkeley-found that conservatives have a greater desire to reach a decision quickly and stick to it, and are higher on conscientiousness, which includes neatness, orderliness, duty, and rule-following. Liberals are higher on openness, which includes intellectual curiosity, excitement-seeking, novelty, creativity for its own sake, and a craving for stimulation like travel, color, art, music, and literature.

~~~~~For liberals, conservatives, and independents alike, thinking about death actually makes people more conservative-at least temporarily.

Fear and Voting In America-- Campaign strategists in both parties have never hesitated to use scare tactics. In 1964, a Lyndon Johnson commercial called "Daisy" juxtaposed footage of a little girl plucking a flower with footage of an atomic blast.

In 1984, Ronald Reagan ran a spot that played on Cold War panic, in which the Soviet threat was symbolized by a grizzly lumbering across a stark landscape as a human heart pounds faster and faster and an off-screen voice warns, "There is a bear in the woods!"

In 2004, Bush sparked furor for running a fear-mongering ad that used wolves gathering in the woods as symbols for terrorists plotting against America. And last fall, Congressional Republicans drew fire with an ad that featured bin Laden and other terrorists threatening Americans; over the sound of a ticking clock, a voice warned, "These are the stakes.""

At least some of the President's support is the result of constant and relentless reminders of death, some of which is just what's happening in the world, but much of which is carefully cultivated and calculated as an electoral strategy," says Solomon. "In politics these days, there's a dose of reason, and there's a dose of irrationality driven by psychological terror that may very well be swinging elections."Solomon demonstrated that thinking about 9/11 made people go from preferring Kerry to preferring Bush. "Very subtle manipulations of psychological conditions profoundly affect political preferences," Solomon concludes. "In difficult moments, people don't want complex, nuanced, John Kerry-like waffling or sophisticated cogitation. They want somebody charismatic to step up and say, 'I know where our problem is and God has given me the clout to kick those people's asses.'"

Into The Blue Studies show that people who study abroad become more liberal than those who stay home.People who venture from the strictures of their limited social class are less likely to stereotype and more likely to embrace other cultures. Education goes hand-in-hand with tolerance, and often, the more the better:Professors at major universities are more liberal than their counterparts at less acclaimed institutions. What travel and education have in common is that they make the differences between people seem less threatening. "You become less bothered by the idea that there is uncertainty in the world," explains Jost.

That's why the more educated people are, the more liberal they become-but only to a point. Once people begin pursuing certain types of graduate degrees, the curve flattens. Business students, for instance, become more conservative in their views toward minorities. As they become more established, doctors and lawyers tend to protect their economic interests by moving to the right. The findings demonstrate that conservative conversions are fueled not only by fear, but by other factors as well. And if the November election was any indicator, the pendulum that swung so forcefully to the right after 9/11 may be swinging back.

~~~~~If we are so suggestible that thoughts of death make us uncomfortable defaming the American flag and cause us to sit farther away from foreigners, is there any way we can overcome our easily manipulated fears and become the informed and rational thinkers democracy demands?

To test this, Solomon and his colleagues prompted two groups to think about death and then give opinions about a pro-American author and an anti-American one. As expected, the group that thought about death was more pro-American than the other. But the second time, one group was asked to make gut-level decisions about the two authors, while the other group was asked to consider carefully and be as rational as possible.

The results were astonishing. In the rational group, the effects of mortality salience were entirely eliminated. Asking people to be rational was enough to neutralize the effects of reminders of death. Preliminary research shows that reminding people that as human beings, the things we have in common eclipse our differences-what psychologists call a "common humanity prime"-has the same effect."People have two modes of thought," concludes Solomon. "There's the intuitive gut-level mode, which is what most of us are in most of the time. And then there's a rational analytic mode, which takes effort and attention."The solution, then, is remarkably simple. The effects of psychological terror on political decision making can be eliminated just by asking people to think rationally. Simply reminding us to use our heads, it turns out, can be enough to make us do it.


Anonymous said...

We must have a lot of liberals in Los Osos, since we have had a very difficult time thinking logically and rationally about our form of government and the development of a sewer project.

As long as we are generalizing, I don't think that liberals make very good project managers.

Interesting article, though. It missed the correlation with organized religion, which is consistant with the other issues discussed.

Anonymous said...

All unfounded opinion and psycobabble. There is not one thing in this analysis that would stand up to scientific method and analysis: Be it about liberals or conservatives.

Anonymous said...

May I ask how you define "scientific"? And what exactly does "psycobabble" mean? Are you referring to social science research?

*pg-13 said...

Oh gadzooks, let's set some boundary conditions here.

No, Psychology Today is not a rigorous scientific journal. It is science for Joe Q Public. Think Oprah meets Science. As such, it does tend toward simplified generalizations. But its content - as far as I know - is based in science and scientific process. There are a slew of similar kinds of science magazines published for general readership. Just gazing around my office I see Discovery, Science, and Technology Review. There are at least a dozen others. Twenty odd years ago I subscribed to Psychology Today too. I quit subscribing largely because it did indeed far too often approach psychobabble. But it is - mostly - psychobabble based in some sense on the scientific method. In this case there are a number of references to valid studies based on quantitative analysis. Yeah, they should have been footnoted. But that's one of the things you lose when the target audience isn't scientists. So this psychobabble is not 'unfounded opinion. And this article probably does stand up to scientific principle. I say probably because it isn't appropriately attributed but the publication itself is known for some base standards.

And yes, proofs and analysis within the social sciences (note: sciences) tend to be different than those in physics. But social sciences - including psychology - are indeed sciences. Those in the hard sciences refer to them as soft science. But they are science. And the Hard and Soft attributes of science are - as so many hard science physicists are forever proving - only relative.

Get over it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, PG!


Anon 12:01

I get so tired of social science being accused of being nothing more than opinion (sigh).

Mike Green said...

We could use a lot more people paying attention to social sciences around here.
How well do you think "behavior based marketing" would work if folks had their eyes wide open to the strings attached to their brains?
I know from experience, I was fooled (twice). Now I look hard and make the effort to find out the truth.
This has resulted in finding myself in a bit of a quandary, I don't know if I'm a liberal or a conservative anymore.
Is there such a thing as a libertarian liberal?

Or maybe I'm just a pragmatic idealist?

Anonymous said...

Confused through all the diliberate lies spewed from the Lisa-Julie-Gail MTS-at-all-costs single agenda? That cloud continues to create the quandary.

You know they have lied to and mismanaged our community to the point where it has become normal to overly question every thought that challenges those ideas we hold as fact. There has been such a campaign of misconception and misdirection that fact and fancy become a blur. Putting a tag of liberal or conservative, idealist or pragmatist, democrat or republican becomes an execise in futility.

Take a deep breath and step back a few paces. We are all going to pay for this folly. We all know we need a sewer and we all know "we" don't have the knowlege or resources in all of Los Osos to make that happen. We have plenty of folks willing to stand up and tell us they have "the" solution. I don't believe any of them any longer! I do believe that the County or the State should be given a free hand to design and build the entire project without any of our "public" input.

I don't ascribe to tagging my beliefs, I'm a little of every philosophy, a bit of an engineer, an enviromentalist, and a property owner. I just want the sewer and am tired of the efforts of some within this community to stall and delay. All their actions have done has been to drive the final costs so high that all will be effected.

Churadogs said...

I was curious how long it would take for readers to transition from a general interest article that has wide appliction on national and internation news and hop directly to . . . the sewer.

No time at all, right out of the box, kaboom!

Let's see, next up, I've just posted an article on the problem with the contaminated food from China. Let's see how long it takes for our anonymous posters to go directly to . . . the sewer.

Maybe we should start one of those six-degrees of separation type office pools, only in reverse: See how long the comments about, say, tainted food from China, or an interesting breakdown of general personality "types" can stay on topic and OFF the sewer.

It'll be hard, sorta like going cold turkey, but what the heck, maybe you all can give it a try on the new posting above?

Anonymous said...

Dear 6:11,
Thanks for saying it so concisely.
From a social-pscychology stand point, what has happened in Los Osos is text book from a class I took once on the sociology of the crowd and the phenomenon of what happens to how people think and view and behave when they are swept up in the group.

Identifying who is who does become an exercise in futility because there is a "group-think" in process and the typicaly pragmatic thought process of the individual is on hold for a bit.

I agree we are going to pay. I do think the community should still feel heard. I don't think the solution is going to just come from within the community because there are too many entrenched and are not allowing the rest us a place to be a part of the discussion. I do believe our community needs to begin focusing on other topics that are pertinent to our flourishing as a community. This would be difficult to label.

I consider myself to be an environmentalist, not baptised in the church of consumerism, a property owner and married to an engineer- I think that tosses me closer to Mike Green and I would also, for the sake of discussion, like to be labeled a pragmatic liberal too. But then again, we always were appreciative of the Cargo Cult genre.

A little challenge - try to come up with a 2 word discription that doesn't involve Democrat or Republican to see if you can identify what you are without the group identity. It's refreshing.
Maria M. Kelly

*pg-13 said...

"Seriously Lost"

Oops, sorry. Serious sounds too Republican. And Lost is too Democrat. Gee, this harder than it looks. Not refreshing at all ;-)

Ron said...

Maria wrote:

"A little challenge - try to come up with a 2 word discription that doesn't involve Democrat or Republican to see if you can identify what you are without the group identity."

Independent smart-ass?

Anonymous said...

O.k, so I forgot about the Independents - For me, it all went down hill after the Gary Hart incident and it was too perplexing that Lieberman jumped. I think I still feel betrayed or maybe I should lemming it and head that way too... I haven't sorted that out for myself yet.
Yeah, this wasn't very refreshing. A bar of soap would have been more than adequate. O.k, no more chatter, I'm late for everything now!
Maria M. Kelly

Mike Green said...

Cargo Cult welcomes All political denominations!

Word is the great gods of federal funding have heard our prayers!

Praise be to the mud!

Anonymous said...

Now if they would listen to the community about the crimial cooruption of the Lisa CSD! Let's hope she and Julie have to pay back every dime they stole from the District in payola and sole-source contracts to legal firms!

4crapkiller said...

To Mike Green:

Keep beating the drums and twisting the dials. Keep chanting "cargo come". You just have to "believe".

"Hello, hello, do you hear me?" (into a paper mike) "Cargo coming?" "How far away are you?"

Too bad Lois Capps has almost no "pork power". Where was her voice speaking sense to the electorate before the recall board to decided to stop the sewer?

Until the county gets the grant money, all I have is "belief".

Better not hold your breath, seems like a political ploy to assure a 218 vote. But what else do we have?

"Cargo come, hello, hello?"

Mike Green said...

Crappy flushed out:
"Better not hold your breath, seems like a political ploy to assure a 218 vote. But what else do we have?

Not a damn thing unless 90% of the residents want to start a revolution.

Bow and Pray, chant chant, Beating my drum!

Oh send me a piggie poke um!