New York University psychologist John Jost and his colleagues have been using time-tested instruments to plumb the unconscious attitudes of both self-proclaimed conservatives and liberals. The starkest difference between conservatives and liberals was related to feminism, which conservatives believe in their gut to be a threat to their ordered world. This may seem at first to merely reflect tired old stereotypes. But remember that these laboratory probes are designed to tunnel below conscious thought, suggesting that ideology permeates the most basic cognitive machinery we have. If so, views on civil rights, welfare, affirmative action and much more are not just politically meaningful but psychologically meaningful as well. Why would this be? Well, it may be a matter of basic inborn temperament, or personality. As Jost and his colleagues (Brian Nosek of the University of Virginia and Samuel Gosling of the University of Texas at Austin) explain in the March issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, extreme political ideologies appear to fit with certain core personality traits.
Red Mind, Blue Mind?