Social Psychologists, living sheltered lives behind academia’s ivy covered walls, seemingly will not stop until conservatives are either re-educated and get with the “progressive” program, or resting in a thorazine haze within some institution. I would not be shocked to find conservatism included in a future edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

In 2003 a couple of UC Berkeley Psychologists co-wrote a paper (link is to PDF document) for the American Psychological Association describing conservatism as deriving from a personality driven by authoritarianism, dogmatism, and intolerance of ambiguity. Conservatives, these psychologists asserted, require closure, have a regulatory focus, and demand terror management. People, whom I’m sure these academics would be described as “right-wing extremists,” provide ideological rationalization for social dominance and system justification. In short: “The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally to manage uncertainty and threat.”

In 2009, a team led by psychologist Kenneth E. Vail, went beyond the “conservatives are defective” thesis by asserting that conservatism can be fixed. If “compassionate values [are] primed” then people are more likely to embrace so-called progressive values. In other words, our enlightened academics can break the link between fear and conservatism by making us contemplate compassion.

Sing after me: “I love you, You love me, We’re a happy family.” If that tune can be used to break Islamo-nazi terrorists at Gitmo, then I’m sure it will work on those outliers who insist on clinging to God and guns.

Here is  telling quote from the story linked above: “As expected, the researchers found that “in the absence of compassionate values being primed, reminders of mortality led to greater support for McCain.” But among those who had just been contemplating the notion of compassion, thinking about one’s personal mortality led to increased support of Obama.” Emphasis added.

As expected? Conservatives give personal charity and volunteer at a far greater rate than do liberals. Furthermore conservatives are more likely to volunteer for military service at a greater rate than do liberals. On that latter point, a Military Times poll found that “45 to 50 percent of the enlisted described themselves as conservative or very conservative” while “only 7 to 9 percent as liberal or very liberal.” How does a lack of compassion and fear of mortality explain this?

If conservatives are driven by fear, then explain these quotes from liberals:

“The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more – if more should be required – the future of human civilization is at stake. I don’t remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously.” Al Gore, July 17, 2008, Speech at event.

“The ultimate concern is that if runaway global warming occurred, temperatures could spiral out of control and make our planet uninhabitable…. this is the first time that a species has been at risk of generating its own demise.… The dinosaurs dominated the earth for 160 million years. We are in danger of putting our future at risk after a mere quarter of a million years.” Michael Meacher, UK Minister for the Environment 1997-2003, The Guardian, 14 February 2003.

“… the impacts of global warming are such that I have no hesitation in describing it as a ‘weapon of mass destruction’”. Sir John Houghton, former chief executive of the UK Meteorological Office and co-chair of the Scientific Assessment Working Group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, The Guardian, 28 July 2003.

To the liberal mind these quotes are the stuff of pure, clear reason; there is not an ounce of fear, intolerance, dogmatism, authoritarianism, etc. to be found in the above or any other subject dear to “Progressive” heart.