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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Conservative Menace

At the Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr reports a study that suggests that whiny children tend to grow up conservative. Commenter "Ubertrout" posted the study's abstract (emphasis added):

The present study reports on the personality attributes of nursery school children who two decades later were reliably stratified along a liberal/ conservative dimension. An unprecedented analytical opportunity existed to evaluate how the political views of these young adults related to assessments of them when in nursery school, prior to their having become political beings. Preschool children who 20 years later were relatively liberal were characterized as: developing close relationships, self-reliant, energetic, somewhat dominating, relatively under-controlled, and resilient. Preschool children subsequently relatively conservative at age 23 were described as: feeling easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, and relatively over-controlled and vulnerable. IQ during nursery school did not relate to subsequent liberalism/ conservatism but did relate in subsequent decades. Personality correlates of liberalism/conservatism for the subjects as young adults were also reported: conservatives were described in terms congruent with previous formulations in the literature; liberals displayed personality commonalities but also manifested gender differences. Some implications of the results are briefly discussed.

I posted these remarks a short time ago:

Victimized; fearful; vulnerable: Sounds like a rational conservative response to living in a region that is overwhelmingly hostile toward conservatives.

Easily offended: ROTFL! The Left has a virtual monopoly on the speech code meme in the West, and Berkeley is one of its holy cities.

Over-controlled: When I think of "California" and "over-controlled," I think of suffocating government regulation. I suspect that the study has in mind something other than the Vampire L'Etat.

Rigid, indecisive: Aren't these opposites?

Commenter Don Miller raises a crucial issue - observer bias:

A child that feels that liberal policies are causing an injustice in their life, is perceived as "whiny" by those around them. Opposite, a liberal child who feels the dominate conservative policies of their community are causing injustice, would be perceived as "whiny" by the people around them.

I'd want assurances that all of the characterizations attributed to liberals and conservatives (see emphasis in abstract) are free from such bias.

Go check out the comments at Volokh Conspiracy - the debate is still young.

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