Sex, Power, and Partisanship: How Evolutionary Science Makes Sense of Our Political Divide - Hector A. Garcia 2019
Cognitive Differences: Preference for Closed, Rule-Based Systems between Liberals and Conservatives
Is Conservatism an Extreme form of The Male Brain?
One measure of preference for open versus closed systems may be the field of academic study or vocation. English, the social sciences, and the humanities have been found to correlate with both professors’ and students’ liberal orientations—perhaps not surprising since these fields are highly person-focused (focused on open systems)—whereas conservatives are more represented in vocational studies and the applied sciences.60
Conscientiousness, another Big Five personality trait has been consistently associated with political conservatism.61 Among other things, the factor tends to involve concern about orderliness, control of one's environment, and a preference for planned (rather than spontaneous) behavior. Some sample conscientiousness items from the Big Five personality index: “I am always prepared; I pay attention to details; I like order; I follow a schedule; I leave my belongings around (reverse scored); I often forget to put things back in their proper place (reverse scored).” As mentioned in the prior chapter, one study found that conservatives also tend to keep their living spaces neater and more organized than liberals.62
Related to a preference for closed systems is cognitive rigidity, or lower cognitive complexity. A highly robust research finding is that conservatism is related to less tolerance for ambiguity and lower aptitude for integrative complexity—the ability to grasp alternative perspectives or dimensions, and to synthesize those varying perspectives into a cohesive framework.63 As one hypothetical, simplified for the sake of clarity: All immigrants are criminals, instead of reasoning, “Some immigrants may commit crimes. But many do not, and there are a variety of factors that may lead to such behaviors.”