Study: Extreme Conservatives Make Happier People

Tom Jacobs, Salon, July 24, 2013

Given the many instances of Tea Partiers lashing out in anger over the past few years, it’s reasonable to think this is an extremely unhappy group of people.

Reasonable, but wrong.

At least, that’s the implication of newly published research from Canada. It finds a “significant association” between authoritarian attitudes and a subjective sense of well-being. These findings are “in line with evidence that conservative ideology . . . may promote positive psychological outcomes,” writes a research team led by psychologist Cara MacInnis of the University of Toronto and Michael Busseri of Brock University.

In the journal Personality and Individual Differences, the researchers describe a study featuring 237 Canadian university students. Participants provided a set of opinions to determine the extent to which they are aligned with right-wing authoritarianism—that is, a tendency to submit to authority, condemn those who violate the rules, and uphold established traditions.

They then gave a second set of opinions designed to determine their “social dominance orientation,” another aspect of generalized authoritarianism. Specifically, they expressed the extent of their agreement with statements such as “Some groups of people are just more worthy than others” and “In getting what your group wants, it is sometimes necessary to use force against other groups.”

Finally, they were asked to rate their current life on a scale of one to nine (from the “worst life I could have” to the best). {snip}

The results: “On the general level, greater generalized authoritarianism was clearly related to greater subjective well-being,” the researchers write. “The association suggests that generalized authoritarianism may be ‘good’ for the self.”

{snip}

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