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News Link • Philosophy: Conservatism

Liberals Are as 'Obedient' to Authority as Conservatives

 A new study, "Political Conservatives' Affinity for Obedience to Authority is Loyal, Not Blind," published by researchers from the University of Winnipeg in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, looks more deeply at how "obedience" works among conservative and liberals. One confounding problem they discover with prior research is that when researchers simply ask people about how to respond to "authorities," research subjects typically infer "authority" means "conservative authority."

To get around this problem, the researchers ask subjects sorted along the typical two-axis political spectrum how they feel about being obedient to specific authorities. Guess what? It turns out that conservatives think that people should obey conservative authorities, e.g. religious leaders and traditions, whereas liberals think that people should obey liberal authorities, e.g. civil rights leaders and environmentalists. Shocking, no?

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