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 The Pro-Life/Conservative Mindset

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PostSubject: The Pro-Life/Conservative Mindset   Sun Mar 09, 2008 12:56 pm

The Conservative Mind

What do these beliefs have in common?

Anti-gay
Anti-abortion
Anti-gays in the military
Anti-gay marriage
Anti-gun control
Pro-death penalty
Pro-war

etc., etc.

They are the beliefs that many right wing religious conservatives hold.

A very in depth study was done on the mentality of the conservative person.

The study found some common themes in the conservative personality:
source
RWA= right wing authoritarinism

Past research and theory on conservatism in sociology, economics,
and political science has often assumed that people adopt
conservative ideologies out of self-interest
(see Sears & Funk,
1991). This account fits well with data indicating increased conservatism
among upper-class elites (e.g., Centers, 1949; Sidanius
& Ekehammar, 1979). Although we grant that self-interest is one
among many motives that are capable of influencing political
attitudes and behavior, our review requires a reexamination of this
issue. Specifically, many of the theories we integrate suggest that
motives to overcome fear, threat, and uncertainty may be associated
with increased conservatism, and some of these motives
should be more pronounced among members of disadvantaged and
low-status groups. As a result, the disadvantaged might embrace
right-wing ideologies under some circumstances to reduce fear,
anxiety, dissonance, uncertainty, or instability
(e.g., Jost, Pelham,
Sheldon, & Sullivan, 2003; Lane, 1962; Nias, 1973), whereas the
advantaged might gravitate toward conservatism for reasons of
self-interest or social dominance


[T]wo core dimensions of political conservatism—resistance to change and acceptance of inequality—are often related to one another, they are obviously distinguishable. Vivid counterexamples come to mind in which the two dimensions are negatively related to one another. For instance, there is the “conservative paradox” of right-wing revolutionaries,
such as Hitler or Mussolini or Pinochet, who seem to advocate social change in the direction of decreased egalitarianism. In at
least some of these cases, what appears to be a desire for change
is really “an imaginatively transfigured conception of the past with
which to criticize the present”

Scores on the RWA Scale have been found to predict a broad
range of attitudes and behaviors related to social, economic, and
political conservatism as defined in the general culture at the time.
For instance, the scale has correlated reliably with political party
affiliation; reactions to Watergate; pro-capitalist attitudes; severity
of jury sentencing decisions; punishment of deviants; racial prejudice;
homophobia; religious orthodoxy; victim blaming; and acceptance
of covert governmental activities such as illegal bugging,
political harassment, denial of the right to assemble, and illegal
drug raids
(Altemeyer, 1981, 1988, 1996, 1998). Peterson et al.
(1993) reported correlational evidence linking authoritarianism to
a wide variety of conservative attitudes, including opposition to
environmentalism, abortion rights, diversity on university campuses,
and services for AIDS patients and homeless people.
Ray
(1973), in questioning the discriminant validity of RWA, reported
a correlation of .81 between the RWA Scale and his own conservatism
scale. Altemeyer (1996, 1998) summarized the results of
several studies of the attitudes of Canadian and U.S. legislators in
which he found strong differences in RWA between conservative
politicians and others and concluded that
High RWA lawmakers also score higher in prejudice, and wish they
could pass laws limiting the freedom of speech, freedom of the press,
the right of assembly, and other freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of
Rights. They want to impose strict limitations on abortion, they favor
capital punishment, and they oppose tougher gun control laws. Finally,
politicians answer the RWA Scale with such extraordinary
levels of internal consistency, it appears the scale provides our most
powerful measure of the liberal-conservative dimension in politics.
(Altemeyer, 1998, p. 53)

CONSERVATISM AS MOTIVATED SOCIAL COGNITION 345

Scores on the scale have been found also to
correlate reliably with identification with the Republican party,
nationalism, cultural elitism, anti-Black racism, sexism, RWA, and
the belief in a just world (Altemeyer, 1998; Pratto et al., 1994).
The scale predicts policy attitudes that are supportive of “law and
order,” military spending, and capital punishment, as well as
attitudes that are unsupportive of women’s rights, racial equality,
affirmative action, gay and lesbian rights, and environmental action
(see Jost & Thompson, 2000; Pratto et al., 1994). It is of
theoretical interest that, in addition to the notion of legitimizing the
status quo, social dominance theory also implies the notion that
increasing the degree of hierarchy or group dominance is a motivationally
appealing ideological goal at least under some circumstances,
such as when one belongs to a high-status group (Altemeyer,
1998; Pratto, 1999; Sidanius & Pratto, 1999).
In a very useful discussion, Altemeyer (1998) distinguished
between the motivational bases of RWA and SDO. He argued that
RWA best accounts for passive deference or submission to authoritarian
or fascist leaders—including the tendency to “trust unworthy
people who tell them what they want to hear” (Altemeyer,
1998, p. 87), whereas SDO best accounts for more active attempts
to punish or humiliate derogated out-group members, that is, the
desire to “become the alpha animal” (Altemeyer, 1998, p. 87).
Altemeyer (1998) compared the two motivational types as follows:
Right-wing authoritarians, who do not score high on [personal power,
meanness, and dominance], seem to be highly prejudiced mainly
because they were raised to travel in tight, ethnocentric circles; and
they fear that authority and conventions are crumbling so quickly that
civilization will collapse and they will be eaten in the resulting jungle.
In contrast, High SDO’s already see life as “dog eat dog” and—
compared with most people—are determined to do the eating. (p. 75)

there is a clear indication in Tetlock’s data that conservative
ideologues are generally less integratively complex than
their liberal or moderate counterparts (see Table 3). For example,
a study of U.S. senatorial speeches in 1975 and 1976 indicates that
politicians whose voting records were classified as either liberal or
moderate showed significantly more integrative complexity than
did politicians with conservative voting records, even after controlling
for political party affiliation (Tetlock, 1983). These results
were replicated almost exactly in a study of U.S. Supreme Court
justices by Tetlock et al. (1985). In neither of these studies were
liberals found to be significantly less (or more) complex in their thinking than were moderates.

Additional evidence does suggest that an overall main effect
relationship holds between cognitive complexity and political conservatism.
Tetlock’s (1984) study of members of the British House
of Commons revealed a moderate negative correlation between
integrative complexity and ideological conservatism (r  –.30, p
 .01). He found that the most integratively complex politicians
were moderate socialists, who scored significantly higher on complexity
than extreme socialists, moderate conservatives, and extreme
conservatives. Tetlock, Hannum, and Micheletti (1984)

Dogmatism NOUN: Arrogant, stubborn assertion of opinion or belief.
Inflexibility
Intolerance of ambiguity
Integrative complexity
Cognitive flexibility
Cognitive complexity

They found that liberals and moderates scored significantly higher than conservatives on integrative complexity.

The crux of Wilson’s (1973b) theory is that ambiguity and
uncertainty are highly threatening to conservatives. Wilson, Ausman,
and Mathews (1973) examined the artistic preferences of
people who scored high and low on the C-Scale by soliciting
evaluative ratings of paintings that had been classified as either
simple or complex and either abstract or representational. They
found that conservatives exhibited a relatively strong preference
for simple rather than complex paintings and a much weaker
preference for representational rather than abstract paintings (see
Table 5). Similarly, it has been shown that conservatives were
more likely to prefer simple poems over complex poems (Gillies &
Campbell, 1985) and unambiguous over ambiguous literary texts
(McAllister & Anderson, 1991). Similar results have been obtained
when preferences for familiar versus unfamiliar stimuli
were compared. For instance, Glasgow and Cartier (1985) demonstrated
that conservatives were more likely than others to favor
familiar over unfamiliar music. Converging results that political
conservatives are less tolerant of ambiguity, less open to new
experiences, and more avoidant of uncertainty compared with
moderates and liberals may provide a psychological context for
understanding why congressional Republicans and other prominent
conservatives in the United States have sought unilaterally to
eliminate public funding for the contemporary arts (Lehrer, 1997).
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