Social Science

Liberals, Not Conservatives, Express More Psychoticism

Psychoticism: Uncooperative, hostile, troublesome, socially withdrawn, manipulative, and lack of feelings of inferiority

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Social science can be so amusing. There is a bit of a contretemps over several recent articles that used datasets supposedly measuring the personality traits of liberals and conservatives which has resulted in several abashed corrections. The researchers used the data in an effort to show that personality traits are not the cause of political attitudes, but instead both are correlated with some other factor, most likely genetic. Interesting enough. This finding is not what is being corrected.

Instead, what is being corrected is the rather casual assumption in the studies by the researchers that a personality factor identified in the datasets they used is supposedly associated with conservative political views. That factor is called Psychoticism. They hasten to explain that Pyschoticism is not the same thing as psychotic. The original article, "Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies," in the American Journal of Political Science explains:

Having a high Psychoticism score is not a diagnosis of being clinically psychotic or psychopathic. Rather, P is positively correlated with tough-mindedness, risk-taking, sensation-seeking, impulsivity, and authoritarianism (Adorno et al. 1950; Altemeyer 1996; Eysenck and Eysenck 1985, McCourt et al. 1999). In social situations, those who score high on P are more uncooperative, hostile, troublesome, and socially withdrawn, but lack feelings of inferiority and have an absence of anxiety. At the extremes, those scoring high on P are manipulative, tough-minded, and practical (Eysenck 1954). By contrast, people low on P are more likely to be more altruistic, well socialized, empathic, and conventional (Eysenck and Eysenck 1985; Howarth 1986). As such, we expect higher P scores to be related to more conservative political attitudes, particularly for militarism and social conservatism.

There is one big problem, as the invaluable Retraction Watch noted: The dataset used in the studies actually found that liberals scored higher on Psychoticism. From the erratum:

The interpretation of the coding of the political attitude items in the descriptive and preliminary analyses portion of the manuscript was exactly reversed. Thus, where we indicated that higher scores in Table 1 (page 40) reflect a more conservative response, they actually reflect a more liberal response. Specifically, in the original manuscript, the descriptive analyses report that those higher in Eysenck's psychoticism are more conservative, but they are actually more liberal; and where the original manuscript reports those higher in neuroticism and social desirability are more liberal, they are, in fact, more conservative.

Whoops! In their errata, the chagrined researchers deploy a cloud of social-science-speak to obscure the fact that the dataset they use actually shows that it is liberals who tend to have a deep and wide mean streak. That is what uncooperative, hostile, troublesome, socially withdrawn, manipulative, and lack of feelings of inferiority means. Does this incident tend to confirm the recent finding that liberals are more simple-minded than conservatives?

For details of this brouhaha, go over to Retraction Watch.

In any case, social science research shows that libertarians are more open to experience, think in more systemizing ways, have a stronger need for cognition, and kowtow less to authority than do conservatives or liberals. Just saying.

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  1. I like this because it reenforces what I already believe.

    1. I Fucking Love Confirmation Bias.

      1. What you did there…

    2. I like this because it reenforces what I already believe knew.

  2. It’s psychos all the way down…

  3. IT’S STILL A BULLSHIT STUDY!!!!!!!!!!!

    Seriously, did you read how they rate people?!?

    1. In any case, social science research shows that libertarians are more open to experience, think in more systemizing ways, have a stronger need for cognition, and kowtow less to authority than do conservatives or liberals.

      tarran, check your pocket Constiution for this phraseology in Article 1, Section Baily about that science funding clause…

      1. I think I must have a brain injury, because I read the words, they make sense to me, but I can’t find it.

        1. Yes, a humour-ectomy, tarran. Jokesky!-D

      2. That seems like a pretty fair description of a lot of libertarians.

        I think libertarians are probably easier to categorize like that than (left) liberals or conservatives because at this point those things are mostly just odd collections of different beliefs and preferences and not really a very cohesive way of looking at the world.
        Libertarians, on the other hand, are a bunch of aspy nerds who want things to make sense and be consistent.

        1. Shorter Zebulon: Libertarians’ politics are local; TEAM BE RULED politicizes locales (and beyond).

        2. A *small* bunch of aspy nerds…

          Makes it easier to classify when you’re talking about LT 10%.

        3. Fuck you! I’m no aspy.

          *goes back to sorting his record collection by matrix numbers*

          1. I sort of attempted to sort my record collection the other weekend, but it ended up even less usefully organized than before.
            I don’t know what that says about me.

    2. IT’S STILL A BULLSHIT STUDY!!!!!!!!!!!

      No shit. It’s social “science”. It’s all bullshit.

      1. Social justice – not justice.

        Social science – not science.

        Social contract – not a contract.

        1. Well, since “society” isn’t a real thing, I guess that kind of makes sense.

  4. They fucking love science because science, as currently understood, allows you to draw just about any conclusion from your dataset if you know what tricks to use.

    1. holy crap that is priceless.

      1. “Let’s look at a picture of the planet for no reason.”

  5. Hmm. Psycoticism seems like an odd collection of attributes to me.

    If I were to rate myself, I’d say I’m tough-minded, somewhat risk taking, but not very impulsive or authoritarian (either in supporting authoritarian policies or seeking extra authority for myself).

    1. Extra authority? Let me guess, you’re a white male, you don’t need to “seek extra authority” because you already have so much. It would be like a fat guy having an extra cream pie, except I don’t want to fat-shame anyone.

      /sarc

      1. Yeah, all the bitches and coloreds know they are beneath me already.

        But seriously, I’m the boss in my little part of the world, but I’d much rather just have my people know what they are doing and do it than to have to assert any authority.

  6. Party of Science, FTW!

  7. This whole….ridiculous failed attempt at the scientific method…just, fucking…ughhh.

    I have nothing to say but this.

  8. “Further research is needed.”

    1. / forwards grant request to NSF recommending approval

  9. ERRATUM: An earlier reading of the chicken entrails said that Rome should make peace with the Carthaginians. Upon further examination, the entrails disclose that Carthage must be destroyed. We hope we didn’t get the Carthaginians’ hopes up too much with the initial, erroneous reading.

    1. “If the sacred chickens will not eat, let them drink!”

      *Throws the whole lot overboard and loses battle

  10. By contrast, people low on P are more likely to be more altruistic, well socialized, empathic, and conventional (Eysenck and Eysenck 1985; Howarth 1986). As such, we expect higher P scores to be related to more conservative political attitudes, particularly for militarism and social conservatism.

    There is one big problem, as the invaluable Retraction Watch noted: The dataset used in the studies actually found that liberals scored higher on Psychoticism. From the erratum:

    The immeasurable factor here (ignoring the ‘science’ behind these things) is that the definition of ‘liberal’ has changed dramatically just in my lifetime.

    Those who were referred to as “liberal” in my youth displayed strong traits of libertarianism, whereas “liberal” today is unabashedly pro-state, pro-power, pro-authority, pro-intervention.

    that there’s a big ‘whoops’ “liberals are full of Pschoticism” may not actually be that surprising.

    Which brings me to another point that has annoyed me over the years– how libertarians are accused of having no empathy, but in reality, we’re chockablock with empathy for people who are continuously stomped by the Zillion Pound Hammer of Ze State.

    1. DP(P): They mean liberal = leftist.

      1. But even then, it’s sort of changed. It seems like 20-30 years ago there were a lot more left-liberals who actually gave a crap about free speech, tolerating diverse political opinion and all that.

        1. I remember that time – free speech was a good thing because it meant defending the Wobblies, Eugene Debs and the Communist Party from getting censored by conservatives like Woodrow Wilson and Harry Truman. I’m not making this up, just exaggerating slightly for effect.

          1. conservatives like Woodrow Wilson

            That’s actually a useful feature of liberals’ attempts at rebranding as Progressives- less possible conflation with classical liberalism.

          2. I remember that time

            How old are you?

            You could call Wilson a lot of things, but liberal sure isn’t one of them.

            1. I was told that Truman and Wilson catered to Right Wing Reaction (TM), not saying that I was taught accurately.

        2. It seems like 20-30 years ago there were a lot more left-liberals who actually gave a crap about free speech, tolerating diverse political opinion and all that.

          Nope.

          They were just like they are now. Worse–because the Fairness Doctrine had just died. The left has always tried to disguise their basic stance of ‘you shut up and never say anything we don’t like’ behind a veneer of supporting free speech by acting as if letting them–and only them– speak was the definition of ‘free speech’.

          1. Well, good thing you know everything about everyone so you can set us all straight.

      2. DP(P): They mean liberal = leftist.

        Fully understood, Ron, but it doesn’t change my point. Those people in my youth that were called “libertarian” were also considered on the left side of the political scale. The point is, the left has become more progressive, more authoritarian, where the was a time that at least some people on the left were reflexively against those things.

    2. That’s a good point. As I sort of said above, “liberal” and “conservative” aren’t really so well defined. From my perspective, they seem to have a lot more to do with the culture one grows up in than with any inherent personality traits.
      It’s a lot easier to nail down traits that libertarians share (though of course that is far from universal) because we actually believe what we believe for a reason.
      I sort of grew up just assuming that being sort of vaguely left-liberal was the thing, because that was the people I most interacted with. Fortunately (well maybe), I had the right kind of contrarian personality to question things and go against the flow a bit.

    3. how libertarians are accused of having no empathy, but in reality, we’re chockablock with empathy for people who are continuously stomped by the Zillion Pound Hammer of Ze State.

      On the flip side of that coin, we have an insufferable streak of giving large sums of money to those who toil ceaselessly, mind and body, to bring us the goods and services we really like and vociferously defend the ability of others to do the same.

    4. Further: I consider myself to suck at empathy – I don’t understand people at all – but a lack of empathy and a lack of morality/charity are not the same.

      1. A lot of people mix up empathy and sympathy too. I don’t think I’m terribly empathetic. I don’t think I feel what other people are feeling. I am fairly sympathetic, I feel bad for people who appear to be suffering.

      2. So much same. I’m not good at empathy. I don’t get where you are coming from unless you explicitly tell me. That’s not the same things as saying I wouldn’t care if you suddenly got run over by a car. Understanding someone is not necessary for thinking they shouldn’t be mistreated.

        That said, I think a lot of people who think they are empathic are just ignorant. They assume the ability to understand what someone who thinks just like them is feeling means they are empathic in general. Ran into this a lot in college.

  11. So, this was “science” and not science.

  12. I like how they cite to Adorno, the arch-socialist, in defining what constitutes “authoritarianism” and how it correlates with conservative values. Yup, nothing authoritarian about centrally planned economies.

    1. That caught my eye, too.

  13. in reality, we’re chockablock with empathy for people who are continuously stomped by the Zillion Pound Hammer of Ze State.

    You’re just saying that to impress people.

    1. in reality, we’re chockablock with empathy for people who are continuously stomped by the Zillion Pound Hammer of Ze State.

      Especially when we’re the people.

  14. It’s fine to be amused by the reversal, but if you change your mind on how valid or stupid the study methology is based on the reversal you are a partisan hack, not a person of reason.

    (not directed at anyone here, just an irritated stab at my FB friends’ glee over it)

  15. I went to the Retraction Watch website yesterday, following a link on this from another website. It’s interesting how many incompetent and/or corrupt academics there are out there and I’m certain what’s shown on the site is just the tip of the iceberg’s tip.

    Also, don’t get too hung up on this studies’ reversal. It’s garbage no matter what it found.

    1. TG: May I suggest my article on Broken Science?

      1. Appreciate it…good article. Reforms are desperately needed.

        1. Praising Bailey? Clearly a falsehood spewing spammer!

          1. Theory: “The Grinch” is a Bailey sock puppet.

  16. “…the fact that the dataset they use actually shows that it is liberals who tend to have a deep and wide mean streak.”

    Just look at the anti-Trump crowd protesting and beating up people they don’t agree with. I don’t recall seeing a lot of conservatives showing up a Sanders or Clinton rallies trying to beat up their supporters. If that was happening, we would definitely know.

  17. Not a single word about Trump. Not. One.

  18. I’m ashamed and appalled that no one has come in and said, “wood” about the chick in the photo.

    1. I mean seriously. I know a bunch of you guys are closeted fags, and that’s cool. But it should have been the first comment.

      1. I still fall in love with my wife every day, Jimbo (and she’s sitting here next to me feeding the babies) and only have eyes for her. You asked me about, “my passion,” (yeah , I read that remark a day after you made it), well it’s still going strong!

        1. You sure that was me? I don’t remember making a comment like that.

          Not saying I didn’t, just that that isn’t a word I normally use.

          1. Yep, you asked, when you welcomed me back, how I am doing with the wife *wiggles eybrows*…

    2. The shirt leaves too much unknown.

      But who am I kidding. Wood and would (in that fantasy land where you bang anyone with no consequences or awkward morning after).

    3. Well, what do you want me to do about it?

      1. You get a pass.

    4. The chick in the photo is perfectly summing up my feelings about your comment.

    5. That much ennui and lassitude is kind of a turnoff for me.

      1. That just means you get anal, because she clearly doesn’t care.

    6. I’d be real nice to her and then be real mean to her!

      Re: shirt leaving too much unknown, some of us are into that. Girl with a pretty face and squishy body, I’m all over it. The great thing about underserved markets is they pay premium pricing for average grade goods, if you know what I mean.

  19. “Social science” is not science.

    1. I was a psych major and I agree. Some of it is sorta science, some’s kinda science, some resembles science, but it ain’t science.

      And much of it is little better than crystal ball, tea leaf reading bullshit.

  20. Kaloo kalay mutherfuckers!

    “I fucking love science!”

  21. So… if liberals weigh as much as a duck… they’re made of wood!

  22. So… if liberals weigh as much as a duck… they’re made of wood!

  23. So… if liberals weigh as much as a duck… they’re made of wood!

    1. Do they weigh as much as a Scotsman?

      /confusing two memes

      1. No, but they might weigh as much as a true squirrel.

  24. In social situations, those who score high on P are more uncooperative, hostile, troublesome, and socially withdrawn, but lack feelings of inferiority and have an absence of anxiety.

    What if I’m uncooperative, hostile, troublesome, and socially withdrawn, but with huge feelings of inferiority and anxiety that borders on paranoia?

    1. Then you’re an aspie with social anxiety disorder?

      1. I resemble that!

  25. “…liberals who tend to have a deep and wide mean streak….”

    See, oh, socialist thugs world-wide.

  26. Tea party rallies were peaceful and they cleaned up after themselves afterward. Contrast that with the OWS shenanigans, especially the incident of the guy taking a dump on the police car.

    Then we have this: http://www.foxnews.com/politic…..trump.html

    And this: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=18d_1453598173

    Do we really need a study? Do we really even need to have a discussion about this? In whose mind was there ever any doubt?

    1. well, we don’t need a study, but I’d bet a LOT of Democrats would jump up and down and swear (meanly of course) that conservatives are actively evil, stupid, mean, and authoritarian.

    2. The studies help the proggies and other weak-minded sorts shore up their prejudices and confirmation bias against the continual assault of reality.

  27. RE: Liberals, Not Conservatives, Express More Psychoticism
    Psychoticism: Uncooperative, hostile, troublesome, socially withdrawn, manipulative, and lack of feelings of inferiority

    Can’t argue with this one.
    Every socialist slaver has a sense of superiority, especially in academia.
    These assholes really get upset when you employ logic and reason while dismantling their asinine beliefs.
    Hopefully, these socialist turds where diapers.
    By the way, this would explain why so many socialists engage in violent behavior.

  28. libertarians […] kowtow less to authority than do conservatives or liberals

    Imagine that.

    A political philosophy more or less definitionally anti-authoritarian, tends to attract people who don’t automatically respect authority.

    I am shocked.

  29. This is news?

  30. Reason didn’t learn much from Thomas Szasz, obviously.

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