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Why Conservatives Are Happier Than Liberals

What's the Latest Development?

Data sets consistently show that conservatives are happier than liberals, despite their portrayal as authoritarian, dogmatic and intolerant of ambiguity. "For example, the Pew Research Center in 2006 reported that conservative Republicans were 68 percent more likely than liberal Democrats to say they were 'very happy' about their lives." Two statistics that correlate with more happiness are that conservatives are more likely to marry and to subscribe to religious beliefs. "Another explanation for the happiness gap more congenial to liberals is that conservatives are simply inattentive to the misery of others. If they recognized the injustice in the world, they wouldn’t be so cheerful."

What's the Big Idea?

An overlooked area in happiness studies is inner-party happiness, i.e. are people with moderate or extremist points of view happier? Political extremists certainly seem unhappy, filling with rage when their precise demands are not immediately met. Yet, statistically speaking, extremists turn out to be happier. Why? "One possibility is that extremists have the whole world figured out, and sorted into good guys and bad guys. They have the security of knowing what’s wrong, and whom to fight. They are the happy warriors." To achieve the kind of moderate compromise that makes government work, it seems we must accept a little dissatisfaction. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

 

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