Sex, Power, and Partisanship: How Evolutionary Science Makes Sense of Our Political Divide - Hector A. Garcia 2019
Egalitarianism versus Competition between Liberals and Conservatives
Is Conservatism an Extreme form of The Male Brain?
It is no secret that liberals in the United States more strongly back policies like equal pay for women, affirmative action, and antidiscrimination laws, policies supported by the worldview that all people have equal worth, equal potential, and the fundamental right to equal opportunities. Nor is it shocking to learn that liberals demonstrate against things like corporate abuses of power, unfair banking practices, and colonialist exploitations in third-world countries. One well-known example was the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011, which grew as a resistance to economic inequality, corruption, and greed emerging from the financial sector. The rallying cry for this movement was “We are the 99 percent,” referring to unequal wealth distribution in the United States between the wealthiest 1 percent and the rest of the population. One small but illustrative survey found that 80 percent of protesters self-identified as slightly to extremely liberal, 15 percent identified as moderate / middle of the road, whereas 6 percent rated from slightly to extremely conservative.54 Other research more definitively confirms the primacy of fairness concerns in liberals. Using a scale measuring agreement on unambiguous statements like, “When the government makes laws, the number one principle should be ensuring that everyone is treated fairly,” one large international study (34,476 subjects) found that while across the political spectrum people care about moral fairness, fairness concerns are reliably higher among those identifying as liberal.55
Conservatives, on the other hand, are more comfortable with social hierarchies, tend to oppose policies such as affirmative action, and participate little (as we saw above) in efforts to redirect social wealth. Researchers have found that conservatives tend to score higher on the social dominance orientation scale,56 which was designed to measure exactly what the name suggests; the measure includes statements like, “It's probably a good thing that certain groups are at the top and other groups are at the bottom,” and, “If certain groups of people stayed in their place, we would have fewer problems.”