Happiness

Liberals Better Than Conservatives Again, Says New Study on Who's Happier

I am just happy to be a libertarian.

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Smiley
wikimedia

Surveys have consistently shown that conservatives are happier than liberals and this result has evidently annoyed liberals. Fortunately, social science has come to the rescue to show that liberals aren't less happy than conservatives; it's just that conservatives are dishonest. The proper order of the world in which liberals are nicer, better, prettier, and smarter has been restored. OK. That's a bit exaggerated, but consider this new study, "Conservatives report, but liberals display, greater happiness," just published in Science:

Research suggesting that political conservatives are happier than political liberals has relied exclusively on self-report measures of subjective well-being. We show that this finding is fully mediated by conservatives' self-enhancing style of self-report   and then describe three studies drawing from "big data" sources to assess liberal-conservative differences in happiness-related behavior. Relative to conservatives, liberals more frequently used positive emotional language in their speech and smiled more intensely and genuinely in photographs.

The New York Times' take on the study, "Happiness Gap May Favor Liberals" reads:

In fact, when behaviors rather than self-reports were examined, liberals seemed to have a small but statistically significant happiness edge.

The researchers examined two behaviors linked to happiness: smiling and using positive language. For their subject pool, they chose large groups whose political leanings could be identified with some reliability, including members of Congress and users of Twitter and LinkedIn.

One study analyzed the emotional content of more than 430 million words entered in the Congressional Record over 18 years. Liberal-leaning politicians, the researchers found, were more likely to use positive words and no more likely to use sad or negative words.

Political ideology in the study was defined by the speaker's voting record or party affiliation.

The study also examined publicly available photographs of 533 members of Congress, finding that conservative politicians were less likely than liberals to display smiles involving facial muscles around the eyes, a measure that previous research has found to be associated with genuine emotion.

Two other studies analyzed the emotional tenor of language in 47,000 Twitter posts by nearly 4,000 Twitter users and the photographs of 457 users of LinkedIn, with similar results. The Twitter users were identified as liberal or conservative depending on whether they subscribed to feeds from the Democratic or Republican parties. The LinkedIn users were affiliated with organizations associated with liberal or conservative ideologies, like Planned Parenthood and the Family Research Council. …

A fourth study in the series surveyed visitors to YourMorals.org, a psychology research website, in which participants filled out questionnaires measuring life satisfaction and the propensity to self-enhance. As in previous research, conservatives reported greater happiness than liberals. But they were also more prone to self-enhancement, the study found.

"Conservatives' reports of happiness do seem to be bolstered by this self-enhancing tendency," Mr. Wojcik said.

The Times does note that the researchers do write:

"It would be a mistake to infer from our data that liberals are 'objectively' happier than conservatives or that conservatives' self-enhancing tendencies are necessarily maladaptive."

And here I had been thinking that it was liberals who tended more toward preening self-congratulation. My mistake.

A 2014 study, "Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychology," on the political biases of social science researchers in Brain and Behavioral Brain Sciences noted:

In psychology the imbalance is slightly stronger: 84 percent identify as liberal while only 8 percent identify as conservative. That is a ratio of 10.5 to 1. In the United States as a whole, the ratio of liberals to conservatives is roughly 1 to 2.

That "imbalance" couldn't have anything to do with how research results on political psychology turn out, could it?

For more background information of the deficiencies of conservatives, read my article on "Pathologizing Conservatism: Is it an unfortunate evolutionary holdover, or the product of a bad upbringing?"

Disclosure: I am just happy that I am a libertarian.

NEXT: A.M. Links: Obama Calls for Arrest of Local Ferguson Criminals, ACLU Admits OU Expulsions Unconstitutional, Ganymede Could Have Saltwater Ocean

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  1. I sure some drugs in the water system will help.

    1. On topic and insightful. +1

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  2. They’re all miserable one-dimensional partisan ciphers, married to their ideology, engaged in a grim death struggle against their boogeymen.

    Who gives a shit who’s happier.

    1. I wouldn’t say all, but certainly anyone devoted and mendacious enough to correlate a vague sense of being with a broadly defined political ideology that cuts across social, economic, ethnic, and spiritual strata.

      1. That’s a good way of putting it.

      2. This is SCIENCE!!11!!!

        It’s not settled quite yet, but it’s going to be.

  3. “It would be a mistake to infer from our data that liberals are ‘objectively’ happier than conservatives or that conservatives’ self-enhancing tendencies are necessarily maladaptive.”

    So in other words it would be a mistake to attribute any significance to the data. If it doesn’t mean one group is objectively happier than the other, it doesn’t mean anything.

    Even if it where true, it wouldn’t be surprising. Smug feels good and makes some people happy or there wouldn’t be so much of it. And if being smug makes you happy, self identified liberals are likely some of the happiest people on earth.

    1. Whenever I read a left-wing site though, the seem very unhappy.

      Then again, right-wing sites also seem very unhappy.

      I think I need to research which is less happy so that I can get published in Science.

    2. Are liberals happier now than they were a decade ago? Undoubtedly. Five years ago? Probably not. Two years from now? Well…

      1. You can be angry and still be happy. Liberals are more than anything angry. Their entire self identity is built on righteous anger. Even when they get their way, they are still angry because that is what they do.

        1. Not everyone can be as cheerful and relaxed as you, John.

          1. Tony, let it not be said I won’t give credit where credit is do. That was funny.

            +1 for Tony.

        2. It must suck having such a dismal view of humanity and the future. Imagine struggling with constant sneering derision for the dumb sheep surrounding you and the dread of rapists/Klansmen/AGW/wealth/homeschooled children/religious devotees/GMOs/Sarah Palin…

          1. But they have the true faith in the enduring power and benevolence of the State to resolve these issues and usher in utopia once the unbelievers are dispensed with.

  4. I don’t care what label you attach to the grin I have when taking a huge morning dump.

    1. On top of a car in Ohio?

      1. On somebody’s front lawn. Or remote sheep station.

  5. I know plenty of people who smile a lot and talk a really good PC game, but who are completely miserable.

  6. The national debt is out of control
    Obamacare doesn’t meet its goals
    Don’t worry, be happy

    The economy really sucks
    The government is quite corrupt
    Don’t worry, be happy

    It looks like everybody’s bougt
    But instead of worrying, think good thoughts
    So don’t worry, be happy

    1. something something edit button
      something that rhymes with edit button
      don’t worry, be happy

  7. Ummmm, happiness is literally impossible to tell from the outside. My language gets less positive the happier I am, mainly because when I’m unhappy I have to do whatever I can to divert myself from a depression or a panic attack.

    During one of the happiest years of my life everyone thought I was deeply depressed because I didn’t leave the house much and talked about a lot of issues in the government. Of course, everyone thought that because they didn’t think through how if the blunt introvert is surrounding themselves with people and never talking about anything negative that might be a sign of something very wrong.

  8. Shiny happy liberals being smug
    Shiny happy liberals gloating

    1. “Slimy crappy” is more accurate.

  9. Progressives and conservatives in Colorado are *really* happy for some reason.

  10. Are you happier when you’re putting the jigsaw puzzle together or when it’s done? The American people are a giant puzzle that must be arranged into a complete picture of utopian bliss.

    1. A paradox inside an enigma with a creamy nougat center.

      I better quit, I’m sounding like Agile Cyborg.

      1. Speaking of unaccountably happy people in Colorado…

  11. This result is utterly debunked by making some simple observations:

    When I call a really foolish, immoral, or intellectually dishonest person a stupid cunt, I feel joy.

    When I honk my horn at you in traffic, the catharsis of doing so improves my mood.

    A kid attacked me without provocation once in fifth grade. I beat the crap out of him, cursing my head off the whole time. A warm glow filled me as I did this, because I knew I was advancing justice and felt the satisfaction of a job well done.

    The relationship between external social markers and internal state is entirely contingent on circumstances, guys. These “researchers” have an incredibly superficial perspective on “happiness-related behavior”. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me, given how superficial and one-dimensional the views on empathy expressed by similar researchers usually are.

    1. Has it ever been suggested to you that you may be a psychopath?

      1. Pot, meet kettle.

        1. I have never gotten joy from the suffering of others.

          1. Really? Remember the time you posted tons of pictures of military hardware and cackled happily to yourself as you fantasized about how awesome it would be if libertarians were murdered by the military?

            You know we can read what you post, right Tony?

              1. You know we can read what you post, right Tony?
                reply to this

                Tony|3.13.15 @ 10:44AM|#

                No.

                As if we needed any more proof that ‘Tony’ really is retarded.

          2. You would glumly kill your enemies and/or have them all killed off, eh?

            Brave fellow! Stout heart!

          3. If you’re going to lie, it helps for the lie to be believable.

          4. So if someone murdered your family, you would not experience satisfaction on the day that person was caught? Convicted? Sent to jail?

            That’s what I mean by superficial.

            You’re simply unwilling to examine your own emotions even a little to explore the possibility that there are times you would feel a positive emotion while something “bad” for someone is happening.

            Because you’re utterly, 100% committed to an absolutely asinine and dishonest set of propositions about emotion, about yourself, about good and bad, etc.

            I will go all Socrates on you now and point out that justice is a virtue.

            Justice requires people who have done wrong to suffer.

            That means that if you do not love it when people who have done wrong suffer, you are a hater of virtue.

            Why are you a hater of virtue, Tony?

            1. Justice requires people who have done wrong to suffer.

              Justice is the administration of law and order informed by a concept of fairness. I may suffer from either an excess of empathy or a deficiency of emotion, but I derive no pleasure from the thought or witnessing of even a child murderer suffer. Justice requires punishment, but you said you get positive glee from other people actually suffering, even if their only crime was having a different opinion or making a driving error. I don’t have this.

              1. Justice and fairness have nothing to do with each other.

                  1. Really. Justice is often unfair, and fairness is often unjust. You can really only have one or the other. I know which one you prefer, and it ain’t justice.

                    1. That makes no sense whatsoever.

                    2. Fairness means that if you’ve got more stuff than me, then I have a right to steal from you to make things fair. Justice is the government getting your stuff back and sending me going to jail. Social justice is the government stealing for me, and you not getting any justice.

              2. You are trying to assert a position of moral superiority on this, and it’s fucking absurd.

                Guess what?

                If you fight your way into the Fuhrer’s bunker, blowing the heads off of SS guards, and make your way into the main conference room and shoot Hitler dead, and you do it well, you should feel:

                1. Immense satisfaction at your own capability
                2. Triumph at the fact that you have imposed moral order on the universe once again
                3. Relief that a dangerous evil has been destroyed.

                The only way you could NOT feel those things is if you are deranged. I think you’re lying, and would feel those things (or maybe just too stupid to imagine how you would feel) because you’ve utterly committed yourself to the proposition that you’re a weakling, coward and pussy, and want to stick to the script while you’re posting here.

              3. I derive no pleasure from the thought or witnessing of even a child murderer suffer.

                By the way, I described a warm satisfaction.

                Are you that incapable of subtle distinctions when describing emotion, Tony?

                You’re seriously telling me you wouldn’t experience satisfaction when seeing justice done to someone who had murdered your family? You’re going to stand there in front of all of us and try to claim you would feel nothing at all, not even satisfaction, at such an event?

                You’re lying.

                You heard somewhere once that to be a worthless progressive piece of shit with no dick, you’re supposed to totally lack affect when something like that occurs. So now you’re pretending to us that’s what you would feel. And you’re either full of shit, or you’re a more pathetic and worthless specimen than I had previously imagined. And I imagined you to be pretty bad, so that’s saying a lot.

          5. Another example to show you how foolish this all is (and you are):

            When people play sports, and accomplish some task within the sport like score a goal or sack the quarterback, they often will express exultation by shouting.

            I guaran-fucking-tee you that the look on their face while doing so, if subjected to the photo process used in this study, would be logged as negative.

            Guarantee.

            These are really run-of-the-mill emotional situations, but they appear to be outside the scope of your imagination. Why is that?

            1. While I’ve always been competitive against myself, I’ve never gotten much pleasure from beating other people in competitions. Even as a kid I would just as soon my sister or cousin won at Shoots and Ladders, because they seemed to care so much more about winning.

              1. Shoots & Ladders sounds awesome. I’d have been much happier playing that one.

              2. Fine.

                Then make it a successful bench press of a new record weight for yourself.

                Or maybe a new record time for yourself getting through the Special Forces obstacle course.

                What facial expression do you associate with those events, Tony?

                Or how about when your boyfriend gives you a reach around? What about then? Do you know many people who smile when they orgasm, Tony? I sure as fuck don’t.

    2. This “study” was done at the University of California at Irivne – the place that recently banned the American flag. The report was by a clown who wrote an article calling conservatism “an unfortunate evolutionary holdover and the result of a bad upbringing”.

      I’d give this all the consideration it is due.

  12. This is an immensely stupid study. Happiness is entirely subjective, so it’s impossible to accurately measure who among a large group is ‘happier.’

    Secondly this methodology is, er, retarded:

    “In fact, when behaviors rather than self-reports were examined, liberals seemed to have a small but statistically significant happiness edge.

    The researchers examined two behaviors linked to happiness: smiling and using positive language. For their subject pool, they chose large groups whose political leanings could be identified with some reliability, including members of Congress and users of Twitter and LinkedIn.”

    This could just as easily mean that liberals are dishonest with their body language and project a happiness they don’t actually feel. Everyone knows the way to ‘look happy’ is to smile, so if you want to make everyone think you’re happy (even if you’re not) you smile a lot. It doesn’t mean you actually feel it.

    Why do so many social studies have such terrible methodology? Even if you find that one side is generally happier than the other, that doesn’t imply a causal link. Let’s say studies find conservatives are happier. Conservatives are more likely to live in rural areas. Therefore, it could be that people are happier in the more serene surroundings of a rural state than they are in a big city.

    This study is so meaningless I can hardly stand it.

    1. Why is it that the people who’s job is to study human behavior act like they’ve never met a human being in their life?

      1. There was this show on HBO a while back called Dream On, which explored the life of a single dad trying to raise his teenage son. Well in this one episode, “Calling the Kettle Black” the dad finds a joint in the kids clothes drawer, gets filled with righteous indignation, decides to have a talk with his son later about it. Well he tells his friend when he comes over, they start reminiscing about the good ole days where they used to smoke, and the friend convinces him to “fire it up.” The kid comes home from school, catches the dad stoned, and says he’s “really disappointed” in his father.

        So the dad’s job is to review childrens’ books, and coincidentally the person pitching the book to the dad the next day has written a story about a father bear who does something bad, and is worried that he will not be forgiven by his children. The dad, eager to find out how the dad fixed the situation, is transfixed by the story, until it abruptly ends. The father, exasperated, says, please tell me how the father makes it better. The book pitcher then says, “He doesn’t have to, they just understand.”

        That sets the father off, and he then says, “Have you ever met a child?!?”

        It’s a pretty good episode, view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=At-umYzPb-4

    2. Sociology studies are terrible because they are generally done by students with no funding who are trying to prove something that they and everyone else in their social group already believes.

      Oooooo, now I have a great idea. Get a lot of funding together (enough for good studies with non-college students), pick a bunch of different questions, then assign them to researchers who don’t care about the subject. You could do a survey to see which subject each researcher cared least about, then you assign them that subject.

      Now to find money.

    3. Why do so many social studies have such terrible methodology?

      Well they have to publish something.

      1. The really pathetic part about all this is that it is called “science”.

        After publishing this worthless article, the journal should rename itself Scientism.

  13. Liberals: Doing battle everywhere except the marketplace of ideas.

  14. I don’t think Conservative have much to be happy about these days. Of course the same could be said of the Left.

    1. +1 Libertarian moment

  15. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an inverse correlation between happiness and making the personal political.

    If you’re shunning entire groups of people or refraining from engaging in pleasurable activities because they symbolize ideology you hate you are probably a miserable person.

    As such, this would mean a lot of conservatives and liberals who fall into that trap are unhappy.

    1. For many, the act of shunning itself is pleasurable. It makes them feel like they have power.

  16. OT: Format test (hitting Enter twice)

    I tried typing something with paragraphs but the Preview showed it as a wall of text. (hitting Enter twice)

    What’s going on?

    1. Uh, it looks OK there, just not in Preview for some reason. *shrug*

      1. It happens. For now, trust that preview is lying to you about line breaks.

  17. This has got to be one of the dumbest studies I’ve ever heard of. How in God’s creation can anyone objectively measure the positivity or negativity of words or the genuineness of people’s smiles? This is pseudoscience on the level of phrenology.

    1. ” This is pseudoscience on the level of phrenology.”

      Of course you’d say that, you have the brainpan of stage coach tilter.

  18. This has got to be one of the dumbest studies I’ve ever heard of. How in God’s creation can anyone objectively measure the positivity or negativity of words or the genuineness of people’s smiles? This is pseudoscience on the level of phrenology.

    1. Fact: Double posting is a sign of severe depression, or possibly schizophrenia. Check out my new study in Science.

  19. This stupid shit is why I dropped my subscription to Science. And the endless editorials about how science itself is under attack by the evil funding agencies that won’t increase budgets as fast as they’d like were incredibly tiresome, too.

  20. If they were observing liberal and conservative politicians in Congressional speeches, why is it surprising that liberals would appear happier? Liberals have to appear happy because happiness sells and they are selling big government. Conservatives at present tend to be complaining about it, arguing against it, so of course their behavior will appear more combative, angry, etc.

    These studies are stupid.

  21. Not to defend conservatives who, with immigration and foreign policy currently have enough swarthy bogeymen to fret about, but I had to stop reading after this nonsense:

    “One study analyzed the emotional content of more than 430 million words entered in the Congressional Record over 18 years. Liberal-leaning politicians, the researchers found, were more likely to use positive words and no more likely to use sad or negative words.”

    So the party of the collective is happier because they still see society as a morass of useful idiots and stupid sheep who must be pandered and lied to with cheerful propaganda? Why the hell would a study like this concern itself with what hack politicians think at any rate? I wouldn’t be persuaded but would at least understand the angle if the data was on the disposition of coastal elites whilst inside Whole Foods – at least that would have something to do with liberal “happiness.”

    But please don’t tell me that the liars who name coercive redistributionist schemes as “Affordable” or crony paydays as “Investment and Recovery Act” are somehow “happier” simply because they’re more willing than the other team to disguise their power grabs with happy jargon.

    What’s that? They smile harder? OK, I take it all back.

  22. consider this new study, “Conservatives report, but liberals display, greater happiness,” just published in Science:

    I think Science magazine should change their name to Pseudo-Scientific Sociological Horseshit if this the kind of tripe we can expect them to publish. Note to Science editors: SOCIAL “SCIENCE” IS NOT REAL SCIENCE! Jesus titty-fucking Christ.

  23. “Pathologizing Conservatism: Is it an unfortunate evolutionary holdover, or the product of a bad upbringing?”

    Conservatives: Spawn of Satan or just horrible people? You decide!

  24. So one group reports on being happier and another makes a bigger show of being happier yet the report claims one side is being disingenuous and for some reason the other is not…really mature guys.

    Why is it so important to win the “we are happier” award anyway? It’s not like it makes your beliefs anymore fucking true. I’m amazed they haven’t done a which side has bigger dicks study yet. FOR SCIENCE!

    1. Paging @Warty, dick pics needed

      1. No,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no,no. Not even for Science!

    2. Why is it so important to win the “we are happier” award anyway? It’s not like it makes your beliefs anymore fucking true.

      If anything, I would guess that the closer one’s beliefs are to objective reality, the less happy they are likely to be.

    3. Why is it so important?

      Because the periodic ‘who is happier?’ survey fairly consistently shows that the wrong people are happier. Even after the Ascension in 2009, when they expected that the right people would be decisively happier, they weren’t.

      And don’t mention dicks–because the wrong people were happier about their sex lives on that survey, too.

  25. typical of most studies if you don’t like the results, change the nature of the input to get the results you like. this is essentially how you get global warming etc.

  26. This study has methodological flaws, true, but the premise is even more seriously flawed: that happiness is equally distributed and fungible, that it is objective, and that it is measurable across people as a constant rather than a transient emotional state.

    If it were the case (and we could measure and accurately report these items of happiness in real time), utilitarianism would be extremely simple to implement. Happiness does not, so far as we can tell, work this way — and until we have evidence that it does, both utilitarianism and this category of study can be relegated to the category of refuse.

  27. Becuz smiling and using positive language = happy.

  28. It all depends on how one defines and values happiness. One person’s idea of happiness may not even be valued by another. Well, that, and how one defines liberal and conservative.

    It is said that ignorance is bliss. I am sure that their faith in the enduring power and benevolence of government contributes to the happiness of American “liberals”. American “conservatives”, of course, love themselves some government, it is true, but they are by nature suspicious of its enduring benevolence, and want it to be limited. This has to cause some cognitive dissonance, which would seem to work against happiness as defined and valued by American “liberals”.

    But one thing is certain: American “liberals” wish to assume powers that enable the state to make some people happier and others unhappy.

  29. I did a “study” at zero cost on Derpbook and verious media sites. Based on the comments there, liberals are absolutely, resolutely miserable, and conservatives are thoroughly, completely morose.

    So, basically, everyone except Agile Cyborg and STEVE SMITH is miserable.

  30. please take this in the spirit it is given: fuck all y’all!

  31. liberals more frequently used positive emotional language in their speech and smiled more intensely and genuinely in photographs.

    Well, thank zod they did away with those entirely subjective self-reporting metrics and went with the hard quantitative analysis.

  32. Airline stewardesses must all be really happy because they smile all the time:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smile#Duchenne_smile

    Japanese people smile all the time, but they commit suicide at a much higher rate.

    Smile. I feel dirty just saying that word.

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    1. Well, you say you’re happy, but are you smiling?

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  35. “Liberals Better Than Conservatives Again, Says New Study on Who’s Happier”

    Let’s revisit this after the next presidential election….”Study shows Liberal Tears at all-time high and yummmier than ever”

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