The definitions of conservative and liberal
Your assessment of whether you are a conservative or liberal might change after you read their dictionary definitions:
Conservative is supposed to mean a person who:
(1) favors traditional customs, views, and values; tending to oppose change or innovation, or to limit it by supporting, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society;
(2) is reluctant or averse to change, novelty, or new ideas and opposes sudden change in the established order, endorsing change only if it occurs slowly and in small measures;
(3) is disposed to preserving existing institutions and conditions, or restoring traditional ones;
(4) is traditional, cautious, guarded, conformist, old-fashioned, square, or unimaginatively conventional (don't shoot the messenger—that's what the dictionary said!)
Liberal is supposed to mean:
(1) not limited to established, traditional, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry;
(2) open to proposals for reform or new ideas for progress;
(3) tolerant of change or the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded;
(4) accepting; not criticizing or disapproving;
(5) showing respect for the opinions, practices, or rights of others;
(6) full of love and generosity;
(7) tolerant and forgiving under provocation;
(8) inclined to forgive and show mercy;
(9) indulgent, easy-going, charitable, open-minded, understanding, sympathetic, kind-hearted, unprejudiced.
Based on their dictionary definitions (that do not conform well to self-categorizations and objective assessment in the real world, thus frequently making these labels meaningless), liberals are more likely to embrace change, while conservatives are more likely to oppose it.
Now let's see a show of hands. If you like the way things are now, raise your hand. Hmmm, looking around, I don't see many hands raised, proving that most of you are smart enough to realize that a sinking ship desperately needs remediation; that is, change to correct problems.
Who doesn't perceive the need for change? People who:
(1) Have rocks in their heads
(2) Are stoned on drugs
(3) Are too young to know better
(4) Are sitting on a pile of gold and oblivious to the suffering around them
I was a staunch conservative during the years the United States was seemingly on the right track, but now that we've derailed, my allegiance to the existing order has changed.
Shortly after my Mom was diagnosed with cancer, she asked her oncologist if she should do anything differently. The doc replied, “Just keep doing what you've been doing.”
What she'd been doing led to cancer; just keep doing it? Where's the logic in that?
Similarly, what the United States has been doing has led to a national debt that seems mathematically impossible to repay without pixie dust or a miracle invented by an Einstein. Let's forget about the pixie dust and focus on major breakthroughs that fundamentally improve life. It's been done before—repeatedly—and it will be done again, changing the world for the better.
Regardless of what you think about abortion, drug legalization, immigration, taxation, regulation, the optimal size of government, and the other issues that separate conservatives from liberals, there is a clear and compelling need for change. Do you agree?
But are conservatives truly opposed to change? Or just change imposed on them?
TED talk: Professor Jonathan Haidt on the moral roots of liberals and conservatives:
One of my relatives is stridently liberal and a gifted genius. She wrote the best parts of a bestselling book but let her then-husband take all the credit. Although she strikes me as super-smart, she also strikes me as being so unhappy she seemingly wounds people just to vent whatever it is she's feeling inside. Liberal and unhappy: is there a connection?
Evidently yes. Quoting from The New York Times:
“Political junkies might be interested to learn that conservative women are particularly blissful: about 40 percent say they are very happy. That makes them slightly happier than conservative men and significantly happier than liberal women. The unhappiest of all are liberal men; only about a fifth consider themselves very happy.”
Unhappy people tend to be more pugnacious. They're more eager to vent their venom, and have more of it. Misery loves company, so they often enjoy making others miserable, too.
“There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as caring and sensitive because he wants to expand the government's charitable programs is merely saying that he is willing to do good with other people's money. Well, who isn't? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he will do good with his own money—if a gun is held to his head.”
— P. J. O'Rourke
“I wonder how many of the people who profess to believe in the leveling ideas of collectivism and egalitarianism really just believe that they themselves are good for nothing. I mean, how many leftists are animated by a quite reasonable self-loathing? In their hearts they know that they are not going to become scholars or inventors or industrialists or even ordinary good kind people. So they need a way to achieve that smugness for which the left is so justifiably famous. They need a way to achieve self-esteem without merit. Well, there is politics. In an egalitarian world everything will be controlled by politics, and politics requires no merit.”
— P. J. O'Rourke
- Hard-wired: The brain's circuitry for political belief
Excerpt: “When people's political beliefs are challenged, their brains become active in areas that govern personal identity and emotional responses to threats, neuroscientists have found.”
- Best-looking politicians lean right, best-looking scholars lean left
- Birth of politics in children: The case of dominance
- Why Clinton and Trump backers don't mix
Excerpt: “Living around people with opposing political viewpoints affects your ability to form close relationships and accept other perspectives—and may even change your personality …”
- Hey, tall guy! What's the politics like up there?: Study finds taller people are more politically conservative
- Nearly 80 percent of drivers express significant anger, aggression or road rage
Comment: Cars provide anonymity that frees drivers to vent rage they would otherwise suppress, such as when encountering jerks in stores. Anonymity also gives Internet users freedom to blast others with the slightest provocation or justification, especially when discussing hot-button issues such as politics.
- Conservatives demonstrate more self control than Liberals, studies suggest
- Photo selection study reveals we don't look like we think we look
Comment: That applies more to ID and online dating, yet it is also relevant to this topic in a more general sense because people often don't accurately perceive themselves. During my years of being a jerk, did I think I was? No, I thought I was perfectly reasonable and others were the problem.
- Physiological responses reveal our political affiliations
Excerpt: “… political partisanship is rooted in affective, physiological processes that cause partisans to toe the party line on policies and issues, regardless of policy content. Previous research has shown that party identifiers are more inclined to agree with policy proposals that are proposed by their own party, independent of the content of the proposal. If the same proposal is issued by a competing party, they will be inclined to respond negatively to it.”
Comment: This explains why partisans often reflexively agree with policies from their leaders even when those policies are morally or legally objectionable.
- Liberals are more emotion-driven than conservatives
- Most partisans treat politics like sports rivalries, instead of focusing on issues
- Thinking about a majority-minority shift leads to more conservative views
- Personality Predicts Political Preferences based on Compassionate Liberals and Polite Conservatives: Associations of Agreeableness With Political Ideology and Moral Values
- Does Cupid Play Politics? That 'Something Special' Might Be Your Mate's Political Ideology
Comment: See sidebar … as if I need to direct your attention to it! :-)
- Political Preferences Play Different Role in Dating, Mating based on Do bedroom eyes wear political glasses? The role of politics in human mate attraction
- Republicans have happier marriages than Democrats, study indicates
- What Do Liberals and Conservatives Look for in a Date?
- Political Participation Is Partially Rooted In Genetic Inheritance based on Two Genes Predict Voter Turnout
Comment: What's fascinating about this is that some of the effects of those genes can be influenced by one's diet (as in nutritional status, not dieting to lose weight) and other factors. Considering what's at stake, and considering how far political parties go (overboard) to win, it is very surprising they don't avail themselves of the many scientific facts that could help them win elections now and in the future.
I discussed one facet of biopolitics (how physiology affects behavior that affects politics) in Fascinating Health Secrets. I gave two copies to Al Gore (through a friend who worked for him). She said he loved reading the book on Air Force Two, but I wish he would have paid more attention to one part. Had he done that, he likely would have defeated George W. Bush and thereby saved the nation from Bush's #1 mistake.
Missing the linchpin: Republicans who profess to revere education are blissfully ignorant of a power available to them as politicians they could use to ensure more future Republicans as well as immediate steps to increase conservative voter turnout. I graduated in the top 1% of my class in medical school and still (decades later) read every day about chemistry, biochemistry, physics, and physiology (and lots more), and I'm good at putting two and two together, but connecting the dots to see what politicians are missing in this case was child's play: just connect Fact A to Fact B, and let it gel in the mind for a split-second. If they can't figure out something so basic and so crucial to their success, perhaps it is no wonder why they can't solve our other national problems.
- New research shows how to make effective political arguments, sociologist says
- Conservatives and liberals do think differently: Research shows different ways of solving everyday problems linked to political ideology
- American liberals and conservatives think as if from different cultures
- Political extremists may be less susceptible to common cognitive bias
- Study finds partisanship most fierce among highly educated Americans
- Mitt Romney's Face Looks Different to Republicans and Democrats
- Like my body odor, like my politics: People are attracted to the body odor of others with similar political beliefs
- This Is Your Brain On Politics: Neuroscience Reveals Brain Differences Between Republicans and Democrats
- Republican And Democratic Values Compared
- For Liberals and Conservatives, 'Belief Superiority' Is Bipartisan: People With Extreme Views Feel Most Superior About Their Beliefs
- Democrats, Republicans see each other as mindless, unless they pose a threat
- Parenthood Makes Moms More Liberal, Dads More Conservative
- Does Religion Make A Difference In Politics?
- Parenting and Temperament in Childhood Predict Later Political Ideology based on Developmental Antecedents of Political Ideology: A Longitudinal Investigation From Birth to Age 18 Years
- Liberal or conservative? Reactions to disgust are a dead giveaway
- The Role of Genes in Political Behavior based on The genetics of politics: discovery, challenges, and progress
- There May Be a 'Party' in Your Genes based on Is There a “Party” in Your Genes?
- Political Views May Be Genetically Influenced, Twin Study Shows
- Researchers Find a 'Liberal Gene' based on Friendships Moderate an Association between a Dopamine Gene Variant and Political Ideology
- Politics and Eye Movement: Liberals Focus Their Attention On 'Gaze Cues' Much Differently Than Conservatives Do based on The politics of attention: gaze-cuing effects are moderated by political temperament
- Political Views Are Reflected in Brain Structure based on Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults
- Political Conservatives Fear Chaos; Liberals Fear Emptiness based on What if there were no God? Politically conservative and liberal Christians imagine their lives without faith
- Satisfied People Are More Likely to Vote based on Life Satisfaction and Political Participation: Evidence from the United States
- Physical Activity Linked to Political Participation based on Participating in Politics Resembles Physical Activity: General Action Patterns in International Archives, United States Archives, and Experiments
- Partisanship Shapes Views On Political, Non-Political Issues
- New Study of Political Defections Identifies 'Personality Type' Prone to Switch Sides
- Politics and Prejudice Explored based on Reconstruing Intolerance: Abstract Thinking Reduces Conservatives’ Prejudice Against Nonnormative Groups (Excerpt from the first article: “… prejudice is not restricted to a particular political ideology.”)
- Something we should all keep in mind: Core Values Unite Americans, Despite Divisions and Republicans and Democrats Can Agree On Some Moral Issues, Study Suggests
- More Similar Than They Think: Liberals and Conservatives Exaggerate Perceived Moral Views
- Denying problems when we don't like the political solutions: Why conservatives, liberals disagree so vehemently
- U.S. states' personalities linked to their politics
- Psychological Common Ground Could Ease Tensions Among Those With Different Religious Beliefs
- Political attitudes derive from body and mind: 'Negativity bias' explains difference between liberals and conservatives
- Political Attitudes Are Predicted By Physiological Traits, Research Finds
- Tendency to Fear Is Strong Political Influence based on Fear as a Disposition and an Emotional State: A Genetic and Environmental Approach to Out-Group Political Preferences
- Name-Brand or Generic? Your Political Ideology Might Influence Your Choice
- Red Brain, Blue Brain: Republicans and Democrats Process Risk Differently, Research Finds
- Are conservatives more obedient and agreeable than their liberal counterparts?
- Political Motivations May Have Evolutionary Links to Physical Strength based on The Ancestral Logic of Politics: Upper-Body Strength Regulates Men’s Assertion of Self-Interest Over Economic Redistribution
- Moments of Spirituality Can Induce Liberal Attitudes, Researchers Find
- Liberals Aren't Like the Rest, or So They Think
- Most U.S. physicians are socially liberal, fiscally conservative.
- Here Are The Most Liberal And Most Conservative Towns In Each State
- Political leanings and time spent sitting around: Left wing 'armchair socialists' more physically active than political centrists
- Solved: Why Poor States Are Red and Rich States Are Blue
- How will Congressmen vote? Just look at their social circles, study finds
- How your brain is telling you to vote
- Emotional brains 'physically different' from rational ones
- As baby boomers age, do their decisions get better or worse?
- Musical tastes offer a window into how you think
- To strengthen an opinion, simply say it is based on morality: 'Moral' label instantly makes opinions more resistant to change
- Men Supporting Hillary Clinton Have Lower Testosterone
Comment: The claim in that title isn't yet documented by science, but it would be interesting to research that.